New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday submitted a notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to move a privilege motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for allegedly misleading the House by not revealing the price of the Rafale fighter jets bought from France.
Rafale Deal: Congress Notice To Move Privilege Motion Against PM Modi
"I give notice of my intention to move a privilege motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making a misleading statement in his speech on the debate of no-confidence motion in (the) Lok Sabha on July 20," Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said in a letter to the Speaker.
Noting that Modi had "asserted that the demand for revealing the purchase price of Rafale jet fighters was against the interest of the nation and had to be contradicted by both the governments, India and France", and further claimed the acquisition "is fully transparent", whereas "the Defence Minister in his presence on the floor of the House had refused to reveal the price citing a Confidentiality Agreement" between the two countries.
Kharge said that the French government, in its statement, had nowhere contradicted what was demanded in the House by the opposition, which is to disclose the purchase price of Rafale jet fighters and had "merely referred to the 2008 Confidentiality Agreement".
He also said that the Prime Minister was fully aware that the Confidentiality Agreement is regarding defence cooperation including acquisition, purchase and transfer of technology, and "does not state that 'Commercial Costs' of procurement of defence deals cannot be revealed," he said.
It is not specific to Rafale jet fighters and nowhere prohibits the disclosure of purchase price to the Parliament and thus the Prime Minister's claim on transparency in the agreement was "factually incorrect, untrue and deliberately made with the intention to mislead the House".
The Defence Minister's assertion on the floor of the House, Kharge alleged, was "absolutely false" and that she "has wilfully misled not only the members of the House, but also the entire nation".
He also noted that the Minister of State for Defence had on November 18, 2016 ,in a reply to a Parliamentary question, revealed the price of Rafale aircraft as approximately Rs 670 crore and this was again disclosed in Rajya Sabha on March 19, 2018.
"The PM and Defence Minister are contradicting the reply of this MoS," he said.
Kharge requested that the the notice be accepted and referred to the Privilege Committee of the House for further proceedings.