Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that the Narendra Modi-led NDA government was getting the Rafale fighter jets at a rate 9 percent cheaper than what the UPA dispensation had agreed upon.
Talking to reporters, she also said that it would be a "good fight" in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and exuded confidence that the BJP would come back to power.
Responding to questions on the Congress's allegations against the government over the Rafale aircraft deal, the minister said, "We have responded saying your basic price and the basic price that I am getting at, when compared with all the escalation and other things, is 9 per cent cheaper," she said.
Earlier Tuesday, former defence minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony questioned the Modi government, saying if the fighter aircraft purchased by them was cheaper, whey didn't the government buy more than 126.
Antony said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently claimed that in the new agreement, the aircraft is 9 percent cheaper than the UPA deal, the finance minister said it is 20 percent cheaper, while an officer of IAF also said it is 40 percent cheaper, then "Why did they not buy more than 126 if it was cheaper?" he told reporters.
The previous UPA government started negotiating in 2012 with French firm Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
The plan was for Dassault Aviation to supply 18 Rafale jets in fly-away condition while 108 aircraft were to be manufactured in India by the company along with HAL.
First Published: IST