If government is honest, it should be ready for JPC: Shiv Sena in LS

New Delhi: The BJP’s ally Shiv Sena on Wednesday sought clarification from the ruling party in Rafale fighter jet deal, saying: “if the government is honest, then it should be ready for a JPC probe.”

The demand was made by Arvind Sawant who participated in the debate on Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha along with members of Trinamool Congress (TMC), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-M) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

“I have heard Jaitely saab (Finance Minister Arun Jaitley), but could not find any solution. You had earlier talked about the withdrawal of the deal, then what led you to do the deal again?

“When the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) is capable of manufacturing Rafale, why was it deprived of it and the deal given to an entity which got registered a few days ago,” Sawant asked the government.

He also asked why Rafale strength was reduced and why Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not take the Defence Minister to France when the deal was finalised.

TMC’s Saugata Roy hit out at the ruling party after Jaitley’s response, saying “it is pathetic that the NDA with 300 members in the Lok Sabha has had to borrow a member from Rajya Sabha to speak”.

He said his party and leader Mamata Banerjee believe in transparency and probity in all defence purchases.

“I think we have to appoint a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the whole thing,” said Roy.

BJD’s Kalikesh Narayan Dev asked if Qatar has the same Rafale planes at cheaper prices, then how did the NDA government finalise the deal in Rs 1,600 crore for each aircraft?

“Nobody wants the deal scrapped. If HAL is able to manufacture MiG aircraft, then why can’t it manufacture Rafale? Why were we insistent on the 36 Rafale jet deal? This deal deserves transparancy,” Dev said.

TDP’s Jayadev Galla said there is something “fishy” in the deal and demanded the ruling party explain on “discrepancies”.

CPI-M’s Mohd Salim said: “Operation coverup began before the deal started. If Jaitleyji is accepting that the deal was finalized taking lessons from Kargil War, then why didn’t he tell the reason behind reducing the number of aircraft?”

The House held a debate on the Rafale jet deal in the Lok Sabha on its first meeting on the New Year. The Congress had already got Speaker’s approval on such a debate.