There won’t be another Doklam: Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman also vehemently denied allegations of a ‘scam’ in the procurement of Rafale fighter jets and hit out at the ‘convenience-based’ arguments on the issue.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2018 22:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rafale fighter jet deal,Nirmala Sitharaman,Doklam
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (PTI File Photo)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said “there won’t be another Doklam”, referring to the 70-day standoff between Indian and Chinese troops that triggered a major diplomatic row last year.

“I don’t think there will be another Doklam. Of course, the ministry of external affairs has sent elaborate answers on the status in Doklam. I don’t want to add more words but I am certain there won’t be Doklam 2. At various levels, engagements are going on. You have established processes, like there is a special representative who has had about 20 different sets of meetings. Then you have border personnel meeting, flag bearer meeting and recently, the army chief said we have resumed talks,” Sitharaman said.

She added, “We are engaging at various levels...We have to be alert and conscious every minute of what happens and what doesn’t at our border,” she said.

The minister was responding to a question posed to her at the News18 Rising India summit. She also spoke about the border skirmishes with Pakistan, the recently tabled Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Defence and the Rafale deal, which has come under attack by opposition parties.

Sitharaman vehemently denied allegations of a ‘scam’ in the procurement of Rafale fighter jets and hit out at the ‘convenience-based’ arguments on the issue.”What is this constant reference to ‘our price’ and ‘your price?’ What difference does it make when you didn’t end up buying anything? There is no scam. You can search for as long as you want,” Sitharaman said.

“During the previous government, (former defence minister) Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony also declined to give details about certain aspects, pointing to national interest. At that time, the BJP did not make a big issue of it,” she added.

The minister also spoke on the controversy surrounding army vice chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand’s deposition in front of the parliamentary committee, where he said the army did not have enough money to pay for ongoing schemes and emergency procurement.

“I won’t like to rebut the vice-chief’s recent comments but there are many other things that have not been made public that give confidence to us,” she said.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 22:03 IST