Congress Claim:’Conspiracy of silence over Rafale deal’

New Delhi:-The Congress today accused the central government of stonewalling questions over the Rafale fighter deal, saying there was a “conspiracy of silence” and an attempt to “bypass the national interest”.

Party spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi also claimed that the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was not in the loop when the agreement to procure 36 fighter planes from France was signed in 2016 and demanded that he “break his silence” on the issue.

Addressing a press conference here on the issue which her party has been raising at various fora, Chaturvedi said Parrikar’s “silence amounts to agreement to the conspiracy that has betrayed the nation.”

She alleged that the Modi government had made “self- interest as its primary goal over the national interest.”

The spokesperson claimed that the union government had overpriced the aircraft, reduced the number of aircraft and taken the offset benefit away from a public sector company and handed it over to a “friendly” private company.

“I dont call Rafale a deal. It is a scam. And what the government is doing and how it is trying to defend itself is nothing but a sham,” Chaturvedi said.

“There is a conspiracy of silence to hide the investigation or to take responsibility to carry out an investigation in a very open and shut case of how you can help your own people and bypass national interest,” she added.

She said Parrikar, now the Chief Minister of Goa, was not even present in France when the deal was signed.

“Forget presence, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had not even been prepared for the prime ministers announcement (about the deal) and was caught off-guard. What we understand is that he (Parrikar) did not even know a deal has been negotiated, signed and agreed upon,” She said.

The Congress spokesperson said her party expects Parrikar, who held the defence portfolio from November 2014 to March 2017, to answer questions related to the deal.

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