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Use common sense, Modi tells Oppn on his Rafale remarks; no comments, says IAF chief

twitter-logoPTI | March 4, 2019 | Updated 17:52 IST

(Eds: Adding PM's quote, reax by IAF chief, oppn ) Jamnagar, Mar 4 (PTI) Asking opposition parties to use common sense, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday slammed them for questioning his statement that the presence of Rafale fighter jets would have given greater firepower to the IAF during the February 27 aerial engagement with Pakistan. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa declined to comment on the prime minister's statement that Rafale jets would have a made a difference. "I said if Rafale was acquired in time it would have made a difference (during the February 27 dogfight), but they(opposition parties) say Modi is questioning our air force strike," Modi said, addressing a gathering in Jamnagar. "Please use common sense. What I said was if we had Rafale at the time (of aerial dogfight), then none of our fighter jets would have gone down and none of theirs saved," he added. India lost one MiG 21 jet during the fierce dogfight in which one F-16 warplane of Pakistan Air Force(PAF) was also shot down. "If they(opposition) don't understand me what can I do. They have their own limitations," he told the audience during his 40-minute speech rendered in Gujarati. Dhanoa told reporters in Coimbatore that the Rafale fighters should come into India's inventory by September. "Yes, we have a plan for inducting new aircraft and that is why we have signed contract for 36 Rafale jets." Eventually, Jaguar, MiG29, and Mirage 2000 aircraft will be replaced by Tejas Mk-2 and then the "next step" will be on Advanced Medium Combat Aircrafts, he said. When an adversary attacks you, every aircraft is used, Dhanoa said, adding that the MiG 21 jet used in the dog fight with Pakistan is an upgraded aircraft with advanced weapons system. "The MiG 21 Bison is in our inventory, why not use it?...I will not comment on the ongoing operation because they are still ongoing. MIG-21 Bison is capable. It has been upgraded... It has got a better weapons system, better radars, better air-to-air missiles... whatever it takes to make it from third generation to 3.5 generation (aircraft) or so," said the chief of the Indian Air Force(IAF). BSP chief Mayawati attacked Modi for his remarks on Rafale jets, asking why the BJP government at the Centre did not induct even one of these fighters into the IAF during its tenure. "Rafale fighter could have proven useful in fight against Pakistan, claims PM Modi in his rallies. Even then not a single Rafale inducted into IAF fleet during his government's tenure. Better explain people why this kind of lapse and neglect even by the BJP on the issue of country's safety and security?" Mayawati said in a tweet. The Centre and the Opposition are locked in a massive political row over the deal for procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France. Lashing out at statements from opposition party leaders who demanded proof of the February 26 air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed(JeM) terror camp in Pakistan's Balakot, Modi said his objective was to end terror while that of the opposition was to remove him. "The root of terrorism disease is in the neighbouring country, should we not cure the disease from its roots," he said. "Even if mentors of those seeking to destroy India are outside, this country won't sit quietly," he said in his address after inaugurating an annexe building of Guru Govind Singh hospital and various other development works. Modi also flagged off the Bandra-Jamnagar Humsafar Express and launched development projects, including the 51-km pipeline from Aaji-3 to Khijadia. He said structural and long-term measures are required to overcome the challenges faced by the country, instead of poorly thought out short term ones. Hospitals that have come up in the past few years in Gujarat will greatly benefit the poor, he said. The Ayushman Bharat scheme rolled out by the Union Government will ensure affordable and quality healthcare for the poor, he added. Modi lauded water conservation measures adopted by the Gujarat government. The government has big plans to provide water to people by establishing big desalination plants, he said. Slamming the Congress, Modi said the party's programme was to announce farm loan waiver every ten years and collect votes by fooling people. "Our government will give direct financial assistance to farmers every year. When Rs 75,000 crore will go to rural economy every year it will have a positive impact," Modi said. PTI PTI COR PD BNM VT ABN VGN SA GSN GSN GSN

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