NEW DELHI: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday suggested "an international corporate rivalry" could be behind the "artificial storm" being unleashed against the Rafale deal despite the Supreme Court not finding anything adverse in it and the government repeatedly answering all questions.

"None of us should become part of an international corporate warfare... Is India's interests on the top of your agenda or becoming pawns of corporate rivalries?" she said, obliquely attacking Congress while delivering a lecture on "India's strategic interests in context of the Rafale deal".

Though she did not name any company, Eurofighter Typhoon manufacturer EADS had offered a 20% discount on its earlier bid after the French Dassault Aviation, which makes Rafales, was declared the (lowest bidder) in the original medium multi-role combat aircraft project for 126 jets under UPA in 2012.

The UPA government had rejected the EADS offer as it violated provisions of the Defence Procurement Procedure and Central Vigilance Commission guidelines. The defence ministry, incidentally, on Friday had also said, "It's a corporate battle that has been going on since 2012 and has adversely affected the capabilities of the IAF. The controversy should be put to rest in the interest of national security."

Sitharaman, on her part, said it would be "the greatest disservice to the nation if the intention to sabotage the Rs 59,000-crore deal for the desperately-needed Rafale fighters actually succeeded." The previous UPA regime had just "wasted" 10 critical years by sitting on the proposed procurement and taking "no decision" at a time when both Pakistan and China were inducting new-generation fighters. "They (Congress) called the IAF chief a liar just for calling the Rafale a good aircraft. He didn't say he loves PM Modi or he likes BJP. He just said it is a damn good aircraft, that's his business to say," she said.

The opposition is demanding a joint parliamentary committee despite SC refusing to order an inquiry, she said.