Panaji: There was no clarity on the agreement to buy Rafale fighter jets from France and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was not taken into confidence when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inked the deal, Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik said on Monday.
Right from the beginning there was no clarity on the deal that Modi struck with the French government in April, amid much fanfare, Naik said at a press conference here.
“When was the deal signed? Whether in India or abroad? Whether for 36 Rafales or more? No one seems to know,” the Congress leader said.
“The fact is that Parrikar was not taken along by Modi on the Rafale deal or any other matter. In defence deals, the PM calls the shots and papers (merely) pass through the ministers,” said Naik, who has been elected to the upper house from Goa.
Parrikar, a former Goa chief minister, was only interested in blaming the earlier Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in his media comments on different occasions in relation to defence ministry affairs, he added.
Parrikar had on Sunday said in Delhi that India would buy only 36 Rafale fighters from French aviation company Dassault and not 126, for which a tender had been approved.
Commenting on Parrikar’s criticism of his predecessor AK Antony “mishandling” the tender for the Rafale purchase, Naik said: “Broadly, he is only blaming the UPA government.”