A K Antony, who was the minister of defence in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, had in February 2014 said that the government has no money to go ahead with the procurement of 126 fighter jets.
The minister had made the comment while he was addressing the media after inaugurating Defexpo 2014 at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.
“There is no money left. All major projects have to wait till April 1,” Antony, who had a seven-and-a-half-year long tenure, the longest for an Indian defence minister, had said when asked about the procurement of Rafales.
He had said that there was “delay” but “negotiations are going on, because of shortage of funds, the deal will finalise in the next financial year”.
The Congress-led UPA government, when in power, was negotiating with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale fighters. Of these, 18 jets were to be supplied in a fly-away condition and 108 were to be manufactured in India along with Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL). However, the UPA could not seal the deal due to difference with Rafale maker Dassault Aviation.
However, since the past one year, the Congress has been accusing the government of compromising with national security by reducing the number of aircraft and favouring Anil Ambani’s Reliance over state-owned HAL. A statement by former French President Francois Hollande, Dassault Aviation’s rebuttal to it and the French government's denial has complicated the issue further.
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