BANGALORE: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman rejected AICC President Rahul Gandhi’s claims that NDA government had denied Rafale aircraft making deal to HAL, and alleged that Congress was shedding crocodile tears and it was responsible for delaying the important deal for India producing multi-role fighters.

Speaking to reporters she accused the Congress saying that the then UPA-2 government of not finalise the Rafale deal which was of vital importance to the Indian Air Force and it was NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that acted swiftly to procure 36 aircraft and the first batch would start arriving in 2019.

‘’Under UPA government there was no (Rafale) deal. That government committed error in not finalising the deal. Furthermore, even then Rafale maker Dassault of France had not announced any tie up with HAL.

‘’Did they (Congress led UPA) agree to get the Rafale built by HAL, no. Did they fixed a delivery date or finalised the payment to be made (to Dassault), no. Now they say NDA government has taken away jobs from HAL when they themselves did nothing,’’ she alleged.

Ms Sitaraman said the entire campaign (by Mr Gandhi) was based on ‘half truths’.

The Defence Minister, however said the Modi government had been HAL by placing additional orders for the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and helping it increase the production from 8 to 16 aircraft per year. The NDA government had helped the country’s aircraft maker by placing more orders for the Defence forces, she added.

On the cease fire violations by Pakistan Ms Sitaraman said "We are responding to every violation from Pakistan, we are also eliminating them and pushing them back we are not letting anything go unnoticed."

She rejected allegations that the second anniversary of 2016 surgical strikes by armed forces was being used for political end by the government and said ‘’when unarmed Indian soldiers were killed inside the Indian borders, we had to act and strike decisive blows against the opponent. And the Indian army did exactly the same. After two years of such heroic feet the country is celebrating ‘Parakram Parv’ against the cowardly act of Pakistan. Is this celebration wrong. Is it political. If we cannot celebrate such acts what else can we?’’

Meanwhile with confusion over holding of Aero India airshow cleared and Bangalore to host the show again,The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will play a key role in hosting 2019 Aero India, Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command based in the city and who was present in the press conference, said HAL will play a key role in the event.

The Defence Exhibition Organisation which has so far been organising the event in the past. However this time around HAL has been asked to take up the task.

The Aero India 2019 will be held at the Air Force Station Yelahanka between February 20 and 24, 2019. 

In August there were reports that the air show would move out of Bangalore to possibly Lucknow. A political controversy had erupted with JD(S)-Congress Karnataka coalition government clashing with the NDA government saying that the State had hosted the biggest Aerospace event in Asia in the city since 1993.

On September 8, ending months of speculation, the Ministry of Defence announced that the government has decided to hold the Aero India 2019 in Bangalore only.

This five-day event will combine a major trade exhibition for the aerospace and Defence industries from across the world with public air shows.

News Agencies