Nirmala Sitharaman mounts spirited defence


Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that congressional President Rahul Gandhi’s accusations that she had lied to him about the deal with Rafale were “absolutely wrong”.

In the Lok Sabha, Gandhi said that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, had told him that there was no problem in sharing the details of the deal.

“It was a secret agreement.” Protection of classified information I am not aware of what the French president told Mr. Gandhi, but I refer to two interviews that the French president gave to Indian television channels. , the French president said that the commercial details of the agreement with Rafale can not be revealed, “she said.

In his speech, Mr. Gandhi said: “Everyone understands the relationship that the Prime Minister has with certain people, everyone understands the amount of money that goes to the marketing of the Prime Minister and everyone knows who funded it. He received the contract from Rafale … The gentleman benefited with the sum of Rs 45,000 crore “.

However, Ms. Sitharaman said that the security agreement between India and France signed in 2008 by the then Minister of Defense, A.K. Antony, did not allow the disclosure of sensitive information.

In September 2016, India and France signed an intergovernmental agreement worth 7.87 billion euros for 36 Rafale aircraft under flight conditions.

Responding to Mr. Gandhi’s comments, the French government said in a statement that the provisions of the 2008 security agreement applied to the deal with Rafale.

France appointment pact

“We have taken note of the statements of Mr. Rahul Gandhi, there is a security agreement between France and India, signed in 2008, which commits the two states to protect the classified information provided by the partner, which could, in particular, affect the security and operational capabilities of the defense team, “the statement said. .

However, the French Embassy refused to comment on Mr. Macron’s statement in an interview in which France would not object if the details of the agreement would be shared with the Opposition.

After France issued the statement, Mr. Gandhi remained firm in his position. “He [the French president] said that before me, Anand Sharma and Dr. Manmohan Singh were there too,” he said.