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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

On Rafale row, Nirmala Sitharaman says ‘this is perception battle, we’ll fight’

Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement came as Congress president Rahul Gandhi continued to attack the Modi government over the deal with France for the fighter jets.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2018 17:49 IST
Aloke Tikku
Edited by Aloke Tikku
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference, in New Delhi.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference, in New Delhi.(AP Photo)

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the row over the purchase of the Rafale fighter jets is a “perception battle”, accusing the Congress of running a smear campaign against the government at an international level.

“We will fight this. We’ll go to places and state facts on record on Rafale,” she said, according to news agency ANI. Sitharaman assertion and the BJP’s counter-attack came on a day the Congress approached the Central Vigilance Commission to seek a probe into the purchase.

Minutes after Sitharaman’s assertion, the ruling BJP launched a counter-offensive and hit back at the Congress and party chief Rahul Gandhi’s family with its own set of allegations. BJP leader and junior minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the campaign against the Rafale deal was part of a conspiracy to get the purchase cancelled, demoralise the Indian Air Force and get back at Dassault Aviation.

“A conspiracy is being brewed to cancel the deal, a conspiracy is being brewed to lower the morale of the air force... behind it there is only one reason.. to remove prime minister Modi,” he said at a press conference at the Bharatiya Janata Party office.

“Congress is seeking the support of global and anti-national forces to remove Modi,” he alleged.

The opposition party was only trying to rake up the matter for political gains, he said, adding Gandhi had not even answered some questions posed to him by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on the matter in the past few days.

First Published: Sep 24, 2018 17:26 IST