Days after formally taking the delivery of the first of the 36 French-made combat aircraft, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said had India possessed Rafale fighter jets earlier, the IAF would not have needed to enter Balakot in Pakistan to hit the terror camps.
He said the IAF could have struck at Balakot while sitting in India.
“Had we possessed Rafale fighter jets we would not have required to enter Balakot and launch a strike. We could have struck at Balakot while sitting in India,” Singh said while addressing a poll rally for BJP’s Mira Bhayander nominee Narendra Mehta in Maharashtra’s Thane district near Mumbai.
However, he reiterated that the fighter planes were meant only for self-defence and not for aggression.
In his address, Rajnath Singh also defended performing ”shastra puja” while taking delivery of the first Rafale jet in France recently.
The Congress has accused Singh of “drama” over performing “shastra puja”.
“I wrote ‘Om’ on the plane, broke a coconut (as per tradition). Om depicts never-ending Universe,” Singh said, adding that he acted as per his faith.
“I acted as per my faith. Even other communities like the Christian, Muslim, Sikh etc worship with words like Amen, Omkar etc. Even when I was performing ”shastra puja”, people from communities like Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists were present at the event,” he said.
At a ceremony in France on October 8, Singh formally took the delivery of the first of the 36 long-awaited French-made aircraft acquired by the Indian Air Force. He also took a sortie in the two-seater jet.
The fighter jet was handed over at Merignac at a facility of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale jets.
Rafale, a 4.5 generation multi-role combat aircraft, will greatly increase India’s geopolitical stature in South Asia because no other country, including Pakistan, has as advanced an aircraft in its inventory.
On his Rafale sortie, Singh said he had asked the flight captain to fly at supersonic speed.
He said that while the PM Modi-led government was “progressing” at supersonic speed, the Congress was “going down” at supersonic speed.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra is going to the polls on October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24.
(With PTI inputs)