Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the Narendra Modi government’s focus on renegotiating UPA-era defence deals instead of finalising them, was causing life risks for the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, who are compelled to fly “ancient” aircraft.
“Since 2014, instead of closing the deals that had been negotiated by the Congress-led UPA government, the present government has focussed on renegotiating them just to benefit crony capitalists.
“And so, our pilots are forced to put their lives at risk each day — flying ancient Jaguars, that are kept in the air using parts scrounged from junk yards in France and other parts of the world,” said Gandhi on Facebook.
“Not only is this shameful, it reduces India’s prestige globally and puts the lives of our pilots at risk,” he said over the IAF’s drive to acquire airframes and spares from overseas grounded-fighters to upgrade the ageing Jaguar fleet.
Raking up the Rafale deal, Gandhi said: “The UPA’s Rafale deal for 126 aircraft would have transformed the Indian Air Force allowing us to scrap and replace ancient aircraft like the Jaguar.
“It involved the transfer of technology to HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) which would have helped make us become more self-reliant in the future.
“Instead, the deal was re-worked to Anil Ambani’s benefit and reduced to just 36 aircraft — all made in France! These aircraft will take years to arrive in India,” he added.