Union minister Nitin Gadkari said that the government’s “financial availability” dictated the decision to bring down the number of Rafale jets to be bought from 126 to the current 36 aircraft purchase agreement.
In an interview to journalist Karan Thapar, responding specifically to this question, Mr. Gadkari admitted that financial considerations had been behind the scaling down of the order.
“How can you advise me that you can take 100 planes? At least we need that much money to spend them, so it is depending upon the government’s financial position to purchase 36,” he said.
On being further probed, he added, “Anything, anywhere you purchase, you take first phase, second phase, third phase and then you increase. Suppose, after 36 planes, if there is an availability of new technology, new plane with a cheaper price, then we are free to purchase that, why we should purchase from Rafale?”
Mr. Gadkari also said that the attacks on late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by Prime Minister Modi were a result of the Congress’ campaign, which had heaped abuses on the current PM. “Rahul Gandhi calls the PM a ‘chor’ (thief) , this is a game of action and reaction... It is time for political parties to increase the standard of political campaign. I am expecting it from the Congress party,” he said.