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Council of ministers get briefing on Rafale to counter Opposition charges

Under attack from a combative Opposition over the Rafale fighter deal, the entire Union council of ministers is learnt to have been briefed in detail on the finer points of the issue at a meeting that was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening.

The aim behind the exercise was to make all Central ministers aware about the nature of the deal so that they could help blunt the Opposition’s attacks by making people in their constituencies aware about the truth of the whole issue, and that how the Opposition was trying to mislead the common man by “twisting facts”.

Highly-placed sources said during the meeting that lasted over two hours, presentations were made to the council of ministers by top officials of the PMO and certain other agencies on the Rafale deal. With Lok Sabha polls just a few months away, the Narendra Modi government also wanted to convey a message of unity to its allies, and to keep them in the loop to counter any growing doubts or misunderstandings as political dynamics undergo several changes prior to the elections, the sources further added.

The main point reiterated at the meeting was that there was no involvement of any private party as it was a bilateral agreement between two governments, the sources said.

The capabilities of the state-of-the-art fighter jets were explained in great detail to all the ministers, especially on how it would strengthen India’s defence arsenal. The Opposition parties led by the Congress have been attacking the Narendra Modi government over the deal, alleging that it was struck at an exorbitant price and that it benefited an Indian businessman at the cost of the government-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. These charges have been decisively denied by the government.

Separate presentations on the Swachchh Bharat Mission and Ayushman Bharat were also made at the meeting, the sources said.

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