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Leave IAF out of debate: Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at Parliament House on December 21, 2018.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at Parliament House on December 21, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

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Responds to Cong. leader Moily’s comments on Air Force Chief over Rafale deal

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has questioned what he termed the Congress’s efforts to drag Air Force chief B.S. Dhanoa into a political debate by accusing him of “lying” on the Rafale issue. The Minister asked the political party to be “mature” with regard to issues of national security.

Mr. Jaitley made the statement in a blogpost titled “Why drag the Air Force into political debate”, following comments by senior Congress leader and former Union Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Thursday, accusing Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa of “lying”. The Congress leader’s comments came a day after the the IAF chief called the Rafale deal a “game changer” and the Supreme Court verdict on it a “very fine” judgment.

‘Party must be mature’

“After having ruled this country for decades, the grand old party needs to mature,” Mr. Jaitley wrote. He added that Congress spokespersons were criticising the chief of the Indian Air Force for having stated only that the Air Force urgently needed the Rafale to improve its combat ability.

“It is the Indian Air Force and its Chief who are the most competent persons to comment on it,” he said.

The Air Force was involved in the selection of Rafale when the UPA was in power, as also when the NDA is in power, Mr. Jaitley said and added the aircraft with its weaponry was needed to maintain the combat ability of Indian forces.

By “targeting” the chief of a Service in a political debate, the Congress has broken a long-standing unwritten rule of Indian politics, he said.

“We keep our forces out of political discourse. Our military is a professional one and subject to a civilian authority. Unlike our western neighbour, it is non-political and non-partisan. We owe it to our armed forces the gratitude of having successfully defended this nation,” Mr. Jaitley said.

Mr. Moily had said the IAF chief along with the head of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturers of Rafale fighter jets, had visited public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's Bengaluru headquarters days before the Paris agreement and found it a “competent body with necessary expertise”.

“Today, to say it is fine (the SC judgement)...I think that IAF chief is not fine....he is not fine, he is lying. He is suppressing the truth. He is a party to suppressing the truth,” Mr. Moily had said.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:06:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/leave-iaf-out-of-debate-jaitley/article25801902.ece

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