Sitharaman most defenceless minister of India: Congress

New Delhi: Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi on Sunday came down heavily on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the Rafale deal and said that she is the “most defenceless minister in India.”

Defence Minister Sitharaman in a seminar on Saturday said: “I want this debate on Rafale deal without any of us playing in the hands of international corporate warfare. None of us should become a party to any corporate warfare. We cannot become pawns in the hands of the corporate giants’ warfare to question the government and throw misinformation to the public.”

Responding to Defence Minister Sitharaman’s statement, Chaturvedi on Sunday told media here, “The Defence Minister in her recent statement has conclusively proven that this is a government of the suited-booted, for suited-booted and by the suited-booted.”

“She has proven that corporate interests for this government are way more important than nation’s interests. That seems to have become the mantra for the entire Modi governance. It is always going to be the suited-booted friends over the nation,” she said.

Chaturvedi said: “Sitharaman today comes across as the most defenceless minister of India who is protecting, serving and defending the interests of the government and their corporate friends.”

She also asked: “What was the compulsion to snatch 108 Rafale contract fighter jets that would have come to the HAL through the transfer of technology, from HAL and continuing to lie in the Parliament that the there was absolutely no work share agreement?”

“However, if you go through the Twitter feed of Dassault Aviation, it categorically states that there was a work share agreement signed between HAL and Dassault. Also, HAL had signed this contract on March 13, 2014, which was worth Rs 36,000 crore. While lying in the Parliament whose interests was the Defence Minister defending,” she further asked.

Chaturvedi further questioned, “Why it is that transfer of technology was denied to HAL?” She further claimed that “14 days after the Rafale deal was signed, Reliance Defence got the incorporation licence.”

The Congress leader added: “It was given to them on April 24, 2015, which is 14 days after the announcement of the purchase deal. The licence was given by the Commerce Ministry, which was helmed by Nirmala Sitharaman at that point in time. Whose commercial interests were being served by the Commerce Ministry?”

Meanwhile, Chaturvedi said that the BJP is trying to “destabilise an elected government in Karnataka.”
Talking to ANI, she said, “People are watching how BJP is trying to collapse the Karnataka government through money and power.”

Prime Minister Modi earlier on Sunday termed the show of strength by opposition parties in Kolkata as “an alliance among the corrupt.”

“This ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance of opposition parties) is a unique type of alliance. This alliance is between the ‘Naamdaars.’ This alliance is all about nepotism, corruption, scams, negativity, instability, and inequality. This is a very unique merger,” said Prime Minister Modi while addressing the BJP’s booth level workers of Maharashtra and Goa through video conference.

When asked about the same, Chaturvedi said, “See who is speaking all this? Who actually is the most corrupt in the country today.They themselves have promoted nepotism. It looks funny when they make such statements.”