Coimbatore: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday took a swipe at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s comments about the Rafale deal, saying he is ‘a confused man’ as he has been saying different things about it over time.
She was responding to questions from reporters here on Gandhi’s comments over the issue, that the Rafale deal was between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and businessman Anil Ambani. “You don’t get confused…Rahul Gandhi is a confused man. He talks about different rates over the deal at different times. Besides, he has been saying at different places that we (government) had helped many persons…sometimes he says it is Adani and sometimes Ambani,” she said.
The Congress has accused the government of forcing Dassault Aviation to make Reliance Defence its offset partner for the Rs 58,000 crore deal to purchase 36 Rafale jets. The Congress has alleged that the government was helping the Anil Ambani group get a contract worth Rs 30,000 crore from the deal.
However, the Reliance Group, in a statement, has said Dassault Aviation’s investment in Reliance Airport Developers Limited has no link with the Rafale fighter jet deal, and has accused Congress of resorting to “blatant lies” for political gains.
The minister declined to comment on AIADMK MP and Lok Sabha deputy Speaker M Thambidurai’s charge that the Centre has not released Rs 18,000 crore pending funds for Tamilnadu for various schemes, saying that she did not know what he had specifically said.
Sitharaman said she however had a letter from Tamilnadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami, thanking her for helping the state secure the release of amount. She declined to take further questions on the Rafale issue.
Thambidurai had said in response to union minister Pon Radhakrishnan’s comment that he should ‘self introspect’ when he asked for speedy disbursal of the amount, that the centre might announce schemes, but it was the state government which implements them.
Funds are essential for implementation of any scheme, he had said. The minister, who was here to participate in the announcement of 12 schemes as support and outreach for MSMEs by the Prime Minister through videoconferencing, said 182 applications had so far been uploaded, seeking loans and in principle approval given for Rs 47.50 crore for MSMEs in Coimbatore.