The slug fest between the Congress and the BJP over the Rafale deal shows no signs of ebbing. Now amidst the row, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has suggested it is futile to engage opposition parties on the issue when all facts have been already placed before Parliament.
She also alleged that the Opposition has “misled” the country and thrown unsubstantiated allegations on a sensitive issue concerning India’s defence preparedness.
She made the comments during an interaction with PTI journalists. Few days back , the Defence Ministry said Sitharaman had not said that the opposition does not deserve to be engaged.
Sitharaman said the government decided to go for procuring only two squadrons of Rafale jets as an emergency measure in the wake of China and Pakistan significantly ramping up their air power by inducting stealth fighters.
“Is there any point of calling them and explaining? You (opposition) are misleading the country with something which was not even agreed to during the UPA government. You are throwing an allegation saying there is a fraud. You did not care for operational preparedness of the air force,” she told PTI in an interview.
The defence minister was asked whether the government will engage with opposition parties and should have taken them into confidence, the way the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 had taken the Opposition into confidence and addressed their apprehensions to pave way for finalising the nuclear deal with the US.
“It (Rafale deal) is an inter-governmental agreement. You (Opposition) have asked us questions and I have given answers to them in Parliament. Then what am I calling them for? What am I going to tell them when I call them?” she said, virtually ruling out any engagement with the opposition parties.