New Delhi: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for misleading the country on the India-France Rafale deal, which the UPA government had failed to conclude but the NDA dispensation turned into a truncated, government-to-government contract to urgently meet the needs of the nation's defence.

Addressing the Economic India Summit-2018 in Mumbai, Sitharaman stated, “The allegations the Congress is making are baseless. The rules, which were essentially framed during their (UPA government) period, very clearly tell me one thing -- they are misleading the nation brazenly.”

She pointed out that the questions and doubts raised by the opposition have already been answered and also alleged that the opposition keeps changing the ‘milepost’ frequently. 

“First the opposition started with the price of the basic aircraft, then price with ammunition, all of it being compared to the aircraft they apparently bought, God knows when... then moved onto the offset policy, which was during their time,” said Nirmala Sitharaman defending their deal with France’s Dassault Aviation.

Sitharaman also commented on the offset contract handed out to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence group, which is now a topic of controversy. She said that the selection of a partner was a commercial decision made by the authentic manufacturer and that “it was their business".

She added that defence acquisition is not very black-and-white and that it has always been very time-consuming, while adding that the opposition can “remain opaque” by creating suspicion in the citizen’s mind. 

Nonetheless, the defence minister underscored the fact that the NDA government has brought in more transparency in matters of defence, abandoning everything that is policy based.  

On India’s recent accord with Russia, who has been an ally of India for decades, to obtain the S-400 air defence missile system, the minister stated that for India to be strong, it needs the kind of equipment that can keep its armed forces at a level of readiness. 

Sitharaman added, “India keeps its options for acquiring (defence) resources very varied. India has also been procuring equipment from the US. I am happy the Americans are able to understand that India has to be strong. They have renamed their Pacific Command as Indo-Pacific Command.”