PM Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration of DefExpo 2018

PM said his government has initiated the process to buy 114 Make in India fighter planes. Congress president attacked the project as a possible future scam. PM also launched IDEX portal for startups to deal with the defence production department. Cong delayed defence purchases, said PM Modi

Hitting back at the corruption allegations levelled by Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attacked the Congress chief, saying it had hampered the defence preparedness while his government had taken "bold decisions" to meet critical requirements referring to the Rs 60,000 crore Rafale plane deal.

After inaugurating the DefExpo 2018 at Chennai, the PM also said his government has also initiated the process to buy 114 Make in India fighter planes under a new project which has again been attacked by the Congress president as a possible future scam.

"There was a time when, like many other aspects of governance, the critical issue of defence preparedness was also hampered by policy paralysis. We have seen how laziness, incompetence and perhaps some hidden motives can cause damage to the nation," said the Prime Minister.

He said such paralysis would not happen anymore. "Issues that should have been long addressed by previous governments are being resolved now. You would have seen how the requirement of providing bulletproof jackets to Indian Army soldiers was kept hanging for years," said Modi.

The Army has recently signed contract for its long pending demand for 1.86 lakh bulletproof jackets which could not be bought for many years due to one reason or the other.

The jackets would now be provided by an Indian firm named SMPP in a phased manner.

On the Rafale issue without naming it, Modi said, "You would also recall the long-drawn process of procurement of fighter aircraft that never reached any conclusion. We have not only taken bold action to meet our immediate critical requirements, but have also initiated a new process to procure 110 fighter aircraft. We do not want to spend 10 years in discussions without any tangible outcomes," he said.

The Congress has been trying to create a controversy over the Rafale deal for 36 planes saying due procedures were bypassed by the Prime Minister to sign the deal with the French company.

The Air Force has also launched a campaign for buying 114 fighter aircraft in India under which global bidders would be offering their planes for production in India.

At the inaugural function, the Prime Minister also launched IDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence), a portal for startups to deal with the defence production department.

"Today, we launched the 'Innovation for Defence Excellence' scheme. It will set up defence innovation hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructure support to the startups in defence area," he said.

The Prime Minister said the government would encourage private venture capital into the defence sector, especially for startups.

"New and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics are perhaps the most important determinants/of defensive and offensive capabilities for any defence force in the future. India, with its leadership in information technology domain, would strive to use this technology tilt to its advantage," he said.

Quoting former president APJ Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister said, Kalam asked us to dream, dream and dream. Our dream is to develop the ecosystem to foster an environment of new and creative entrepreneurship in defence manufacturing sector."