Explain Rafale cost, Rahul Gandhi tells Nirmala Sitharaman

Rafale deal | 'What’s shameful is your boss silencing you,' Rahul Gandhi brutally takes down Nirmala Sitharaman

The Opposition also alleged that the cost of each aircraft is three times more than what the previous UPA had negotiated with France in 2012.

"Between 2004 and 2014, entire decade, the UPA could not arrive at a decision".

"These allegations are shameful.The deal was finalised following a transparent procedure", Sitharaman told reporters.

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The Congress and the BJP have exchanged barbs over the multi-crore Rafale fighter aircraft deal. She said the industry can also get help from experts in the field for a better understanding of the segment, and added that capacity building for the next 50 years has to be taken into consideration. "And, it does not require permission from the government if two private firms come together, which is a matter of their own commercial prudence", she said. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019.

"The bickerings about the deal are a disservice to the armed forces", she said.

Prime Minister Modi spoke to the French government during his April 2015 visit. "The allegations are politically motivated since they are not able to find any corruption in this Government", Sitharaman said.

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Mr Gandhi's retort comes a day after Ms Sitharaman alleged that it was shameful on part of the Congress to raise objections on the fighter aircraft deal.

The defence minister said the final agreement for 36 Rafale jets was signed in September, 2016, after five rounds of "lengthy" discussions between Indian and the French sides, and had the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security. "It is lower than what was there in the MRMCA contract", he said without going into specifics.

Separately, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the charges levelled by the Congress over the Rafale deal were "baseless". "What about the loot?", he tweeted tagging a report on the Rafale deal. She was flanked by the Defence Secretary and the Deputy Chief of the Indian Air Force on the podium, but only she answered the questions.

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