“Today, we badly felt the absence of Rafale fighter jets,” the Indian premier said, taking advantage of the recent air skirmishes between the two countries, at the India Today Conclave 2019 in New Delhi.
“If we had Rafale, the scenario would have been different.”
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent. The deal was aimed at to overhauling the outdated IAF fleet.
The Indian premier further said the country suffered due to “vested interest” over the Rafale jets in the past.
“We continue to suffer due to the politicisation of the Rafale deal. The vested interests and politicisation has caused great harm to the nation’s interest,” he said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was quick to shame Modi for the alleged corruption in Rafale deal.
“Dear PM, Have you no shame at all? YOU stole 30,000 Cr and gave it to your friend Anil,” Rahul said in a tweet.
“YOU are WHY brave IAF pilots like Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, are risking their lives flying outdated jets.”
Have you no shame at all?
YOU stole 30,000 Cr and gave it to your friend Anil.
YOU are solely responsible for the delay in the arrival of the RAFALE jets.
YOU are WHY brave IAF pilots like Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, are risking their lives flying outdated jets. https://t.co/BrzAuFTlFu
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 2, 2019
Tensions between India and Pakistan are at an all-time high following Indian incursions into Pakistani airspace and subsequent downing of two Indian aircraft by Pakistan Air Force.
Indian warplanes intruded into Pakistani airspace in the dark of night on February 26, however, they turned back swiftly soon after Pakistan Air Force scrambled its fighter jets.
In order make the escape, fleeing Indian jets dropped their payload in a hilly forest area near the northern Pakistani town of Balakot, about 40 km (25 miles) from the Line of Control (LoC).
The Indian government was quick to take credit for a successful “attack” and putting the death toll to over 300. Pakistani officials, as well as the locals, rejected the silly claims, inviting local and international media to visit the site of the so-called attack with around a dozen trees downed.
On February 27, Pakistan Air Force downed two Indian jets and captured an Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, as Indian Air Force once again ventured into Pakistani air territory.
Pakistan, however, released the captured pilot on Friday as a “gesture of peace