NDA’s re-negotiated Rafale deal has put pilots’ lives at risk: Rahul Gandhi

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New Delhi, Oct 18 (PTI) Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday alleged that Indian fighter pilots were at risk flying the “ancient” Jaguars since new technology was not coming into the country from France after the Rafale jet deal was re-negotiated by the NDA government

Continuing his attack on the Modi Government over the Rafale deal, Gandhi in a Facebook post, alleged the NDA renegotiated the UPA deal to benefit crony capitalists and reduced India’s prestige globally.

India could not get transfer of technology as negotiated during the UPA rule and it was shameful that Indian pilots have to put their lives at risk flying the ancient Jaguar aircraft as new technology did not come into the country, he said.

He cited a media report to allege that instead of getting 126 Rafale aircraft together with transfer of technology that would have transformed the Indian Air Force, the NDA government renegotiated the deal to get only 36 aircraft made in France.

“Since 2014, instead of taking to closure deals that had been negotiated by the UPA Government, the present government has focussed on renegotiating those deals to benefit crony capitalists.

“For instance, the UPA’s Rafale deal for 126 aircraft would have transformed the Indian Airforce allowing us to scrap and replace ancient aircraft like the Jaguar.

“It involved the transfer of technology to HAL which would have helped make us become more self reliant in the future. Instead, the deal was re-worked for Anil Ambani’s benefit and reduced to just 36 aircraft – all made in France. These aircraft will take years to arrive in India,” he claimed in his post.

Gandhi later tweeted, “Thanks to the PM’s massive corruption, the best pilots in the world now have unlimited access to French junkyards for Jaguar spare parts, rather than new, Indian made planes.”

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has denied the Congress’ allegations in connection with the deal.

The Congress chief alleged that India’s pilots are forced to put their lives at risk each day, flying ancient Jaguars, that are kept in the air “using parts scrounged from junk yards in France and other parts of the world”.

“Not only is this shameful, it reduces India’s prestige globally and puts the lives of our pilots at risk,” he said.

Gandhi and his Congress party have been attacking the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, alleging corruption and favouritism.

The Government has dismissed Gandhi’s allegations, while the BJP has accused him of spreading lies on the issue.

He cited a media report claiming that “India is the only air force in the world still flying the Jaguar aircraft, and will now cannibalise’ retired aircraft for spare parts”.

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