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March 2019
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Soldier killed as Pak army violates ceasefire along LoC in Rajouri        SAFF Women C''ship: Indian women thrash Bangladesh 4-0, will face Nepal in finals        Theresa May seeks Brexit Day delay, EU demands new vote        Nirav Modi arrested in UK; court remands him in custody till March 29        Mayawati won''t contest LS polls, but says still possible to become PM        Samjhauta blast case: Swami Aseemanand, 3 others acquitted        Not playing is not the solution: Ganguly on workload management        IPL schedule: KKR gets relief, to play all home matches at Eden        Rupee pauses after 6-day rally, slips 43 paise against US dollar        Jaitley dubs '108 purported economists' as compulsive contrarians        Sack 3 ministers in Imran Khan's govt for supporting banned outfits: Bilawal        Pak court mulls options for recording Musharraf's statement in treason case        HC takes note of 'dearth' of special education teachers in Delhi schools        Cong-JDS to campaign jointly, vow to reduce BJP to single        Mamata lashes out at BJP for questioning her religion        Jet pilots threaten to stop flying from Apr 1, set Mar 31 deadline on bailout, salaries        Congress will restore special category status to Arunachal and other NE states: Rahul        We think about the future: Sasi Tharoor        No riots in UP since BJP came to power: Adityanath        Congress finally picks Muraleedharan for Vadakara        
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International News
"Bofors Sank Congress, Rafale Will Bring PM Modi Back": Defence Minister
 
(New Delhi, Jan 04,2019):Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in an over two-hour reply in parliament to an acrimonious debate on the Rafale jet deal, accused the Congress of scrapping an earlier deal for 126 jets when it was in power because it "didn't get the money" and ignored national security in favour of its "treasury security". Pulling no punches, the minister referred to the Bofors scandal that exploded when Rajiv Gandhi - the father of Congress president Rahul Gandhi - was prime minister in 1986 and said: "Bofors was a scam, Rafale is not. It is a decision in the national interest. They lost an election because of Bofors. Rafale will bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi back to power."

In response, Rahul Gandhi directly accused the PM of corruption: "I am not accusing the defense minister. I am accusing Narendra Modi of involvement in the Rafale scam."

Allegations linked to the Rafale purchase, mainly that PM Modi went for a new, overpriced deal for 36 aircraft to help Anil Ambani win a Rs. 30,000 crore offset contract, were the core of Congress' campaign for recent elections in which it snatched three BJP-ruled states. On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi referred to "AA" when he repeated the allegations. The government reasserted on Friday that it had no role in choosing offset partners.

"For every AA there's an RV and also a Q," sneered the defence minister, apparently referring to land scam allegations against Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Rahul Gandhi, and also Ottavio Quattrocchi, the alleged Bofors middleman.

Nirmala Sitharaman alleged that the deal negotiated by the Congress fell through because "it didn't suit" the party. "The deal didn't get you money. There is something different between a defence deal and dealing in defence. We don't do defence dealings. We deal in defence with national security as our priority." She also quoted last month's Supreme Court giving a clean chit to the government on its Rafale decision-making.

Defending the 36-jet deal, the minister also charged the Congress with shedding "crocodile tears" on HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) not getting the offset contract with Rafale-maker Dassault as the party did nothing for the state-run company.

Ms Sitharaman also explained that this government's deal is cheaper compared to the UPA's. "Our price of the basic Rafale aircraft is Rs. 670 crores, which is nine per cent cheaper than what the UPA deal would have cost. That is Rs. 737 crores," she said.

She also emphasized that unlike the previous deal, which never materialized, the delivery of first Rafale aircraft will happen in September 2019 and the last of the 36 jets will be delivered in 2022.

Rahul Gandhi, referring to the scrapping of the previous deal, asked: "When this bypass surgery was done by PM, did defence ministry officials object to it? Can you answer this with a yes or no?"

The Congress president also said Francois Hollande, the French president when the government signed the new deal, had said that Anil Ambani's name was suggested by PM Modi as one of the offset partners.

The debate in the Lok Sabha saw dramatic moments like paper-planes flown from the opposition benches during Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's statement. More than 40 MPs were suspended for their misconduct.

The defence minister's marathon rebuttal hit an emotional note in the end as she lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for calling PM Modi a "chor (thief)" and her a liar. "I don't have a khandaan (dynasty) to boast of. I come from an ordinary background, I come with my honour intact, PM comes from an economically backward family... and you call him chor? Did you apologise after hugging him and winking in your seat?"

Rahul Gandhi later accused her of "running away" after avoiding an answer.

Earlier on Friday, he had declared that there would be a criminal investigation into the Rafale deal if his party came to power in this year's national election.

The opposition wants a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Rafale deal even though the Supreme Court recently gave a clean chit to the government.


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Bilawal accuses 3 Pak ministers in Khan govt of having links with banned outfits
Trump questions Britain''s handling of Brexit, eyes bilateral trade deal
India, US agree to build six nuclear power plants
Brazil school shooting leaves 10 dead Sao Paulo
China again blocks bid at UN to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist
UN probing North Korea sanctions violations in 20 countries
US to pull last embassy staff from Venezuela
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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
Gwyneth Paltrow hasn't quit acting
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KERALA NEWS
We think about the future: Sasi Tharoor
 Kottayam: We, the Congress party thinks about the future, says Sasi Tharoor MP. We stand for the you
No riots in UP since BJP came to power: Adityanath
Congress finally picks Muraleedharan for Vadakara
I always stand for the principles and ethics I believe in: Sasi Tharoor MP
NATIONAL NEWS
Mayawati won''t contest LS polls, but says still possible to become PM
 Lucknow/New Delhi, Mar 20 (PTI) BSP chief Mayawati Wednesday announced she will not contest the upco
Samjhauta blast case: Swami Aseemanand, 3 others acquitted
HC takes note of 'dearth' of special education teachers in Delhi schools
Cong-JDS to campaign jointly, vow to reduce BJP to single
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