Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, on Tuesday, September 2018

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday that the Narendra Modi-led NDA government was getting the Rafale fighter jets at a rate nine per cent cheaper than what the UPA dispensation had agreed upon.

Talking to reporters here, she also said that it would be a "good fight" in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and exuded confidence that the BJP would come back to power.

Responding to questions on the Congress's allegations against the government over the Rafale aircraft deal, the minister said, "We have responded saying your basic price and the basic price that I am getting at, when compared with all the escalation and other things, is 9 per cent cheaper," she said.

Earlier Tuesday, former defence minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony questioned the Modi government, saying if the fighter aircraft purchased by them was cheaper, whey didn't the government buy 126.

Antony said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently claimed that in the new agreement, the aircraft is nine per cent cheaper than the UPA deal, the finance minister said it is 20 per cent cheaper while an officer of IAF also said it is 40 per cent cheaper, then "Why did they not buy 126 if it was cheaper?" he told reporters.

The previous UPA government started negotiating in 2012 with French firm Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

The plan was for Dassault Aviation to supply 18 Rafale jets in fly-away condition while 108 aircraft were to be manufactured in India by the company along with HAL.

However, the deal could not be sealed.