The Congress on Monday welcomed the Rafale aircraft in the country, saying the party has nothing against the fighter jet, but reiterated there were issues in the way the contract was handled. "There is no issue with the Rafale aircraft. The Rafale aircraft was evaluated and approved by the UPA. We welcome the Rafale aircraft," senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said when asked about five Rafale jets arriving in the country soon.
The Congress had made the purchase of Rafale fighter jets by the Modi government-1 a major poll issue during the 2019 Lok Sabha election, alleging corruption in the deal. The charges were vehemently denied by the BJP. "Why should we protest against Rafale aircraft? Remember from day one, we said that it is a good aircraft. In fact, it was chosen by the UPA government.
"There is nothing wrong with the aircraft. There are other issues in the way the contract was handled," he said at a virtual press conference, when asked about it.
The first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft on Monday took off from France for India, nearly four years after the two countries inked an inter-governmental agreement to supply 36 of the multi-role jets to the Indian Air Force under a Rs 59,000-crore deal.
The aircraft flew out from the Merignac airbase in the French port city of Bordeaux and will cover a distance of nearly 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates before arriving at Ambala airbase on Wednesday, officials said.