AK Antony questioned why Modi govt reduced demand for Rafale jets from 126 to 36. Said threat to India had only increased since original demand for 126 jets. Accused Modi of making unilateral decision, taking away jobs of HAL workers

Amid the ongoing war of words on the Rafale deal, former defence minister AK Antony fired fresh salvos at the Modi regime on Tuesday by stating that "Modi government has gravely compromised India's national security".

In the press conference, he stated, "The Modi government is guilty of compromising national security. They have been repeatedly saying that the new Rafale deal is cheaper. If that was the case, why is the government buying only 36 aircraft?"

He added, "The requirement for 126 aircraft by Indian Air Force was in 2000. In 2018, the threat perception from our border nations has increased as compared to 2000. Out of 126 aircraft, 18 were to be delivered by France in fly-away condition. The remaining 108 were to be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited."

Antony was the defence minister when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was negotiating the original Rafale deal, which the BJP government has criticised.

"The UPA government was seriously trying to solve the teething issues in this deal. Before we demitted from office, the negotiations were almost over.

After NDA came, PM Modi announced the unilateral purchase of 36 aircraft on April 10, 2015. When IAF demanded 126 aircraft, who authorised the PM to reduce the number to 36?" Antony remarked.

Stating that in the current scenario, 126 aircraft is the need of the hour, Antony added, "According to Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), only the Defence Acquisition Council consisting of 3 service chiefs can decide the number of aircraft/weapons. PM Modi's decision is a clear violation of the DPP."

He added that the Modi government's Rafale deal had ensured the loss of jobs for thousands of technicians.

He said, "If the UPA deal wasn't cancelled, HAL would've acquired state-of-the-art technology through the transfer of technology. They would've gained experience to manufacture fighter aircraft. India lost this opportunity."

Referring to the Union Government's claim that there is an urgent requirement for the aircraft, Antony said, "From April 10, 2015, not a single aircraft has been delivered. Only in 2022, 36 aircraft will come. How can they get a pardon from Indian public? This itself proves that compromised by the Modi government."

On the question of whether the NDA deal is better than UPA deal on Rafale, Antony stated, "Our present defence minister, law minister, finance minister and even Air Force officials are saying that the deal is cheaper than the UPA proposal then why only 36 Rafale aircraft. They should have brought in 126 aircraft?"