Bengaluru: In what comes as a strong indictment of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for its alleged nefarious role in dilly-dallying over the purchase of jet fighter Rafale, ex-air chief BS Dhanoa has questioned the inordinate delay (10 years) by the UPA in deciding which aircraft to buy. 

The ex-air chief also suggested that had wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman flown a Rafale, it would have been different. 

He said, “Why was he [Varthaman] not flying a Rafale? Because you took 10 years to decide which aircraft to buy. So, it [the delay] affects you. 100 per cent it would have been different." 
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistani F-16 before his MiG-21 Bison was hit by an AMRAAM missile in February last year. He was captured by Pakistani authorities but later released and sent back to India. 

India received its first Rafale jet last year in October. It was defence minister Rajnath Singh who received the first of the 36 long-awaited Rafale fighter jets on behalf of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in France. 

The Congress sought to do politics here as well. As Rajnath Singh performed Ayudh Puja as he received the winged beauty, the Congress tried to communalise it by saying that the Modi government was trying to link the jet with only one religion. 

The party also took a dig at Rajnath Singh for personally receiving the aircraft. It was of the opinion that the defence forces should have received it and not the defence minister. The members even went to the extent of saying that the Modi government resorts to dramatize everything and not stress on substantive work. 

The Rafale deal goes a long way in strengthening strategic-ties between India and France. This was certainly a milestone in bilateral ties. 

India had signed an agreement with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs. 59,000 crore