Rafale row: Cong sabotaging Army’s operational readiness, says Sitharaman

Ahmedabad: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday came down hard on the Congress Party, saying the manner in which it is carrying out campaigns against the government with regards to the Rafale deal is sabotaging the Indian Army’s operational readiness.

“I am afraid that a campaign which the Congress party is doing with half-truths and baseless arguments is almost sabotaging the armed forces’ operational readiness,” Sitharaman told reporters here.

In a veiled reference to Pakistan, Sitharaman alleged that the Congress party and the country is working in collusion to add fuel to the fire.

“Strangely, it is worrying that the support is getting reflected from our not-so-friendly neighbour. So, it does not have any negative impact on the government. On the contrary, what we have done is, to quickly think for the operational readiness and also the depleting strength of the air force, and therefore, we decided to go for an inter-governmental agreement,” she added.

In reference to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where she blamed Pakistan for spreading terrorism in India, Sitharaman said Pakistan has done little to stop sponsoring terrorism, the biggest proof of which is the fact that it has not taken any concrete steps against 26/11 mastermind Hafeez Saeed, she claimed.

“Even the United Nations has put Saeed on its terror list. But what has the Pakistan government done? It has provided him with all sorts of freedom to continue his activities in the country. On top of that, the government there has not taken any step to punish the handlers of the 26/11 attack. Now, that the media of that country has come out to term the speech as baseless, it shows the country’s negative mindset,” Sitharaman said.

Swaraj, while delivering her statement at the 73rd session of the UNGA on Saturday, said Pakistan was an “expert in trying to malevolence with verbal duplicity.”