Manohar Parrikar Left Defence Ministry Because Of Rafale Deal: Pawar

Kolhapur: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has claimed that the late Manohar Parrikar had left the defence ministry, as he did not agree with the Rafale fighter jet deal.

“The Rafale deal was not acceptable to Manohar Parrikar. He, therefore, resigned as defence minister and returned to Goa,” Pawar told reporters on Saturday.

The Maratha strongman’s remark could give the Opposition Congress fresh ammunition to target the government on the issue. Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s “Chowkidar Chor Hai” barb against Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed the controversy surrounding the deal.

Parrikar served in the NDA government as defence minister from November 2014 to March 2017. However, he decided to return to Goa and was sworn in as chief minister on March 14, 2017.

His move had attracted attention at that time. Parrikar passed away on March 17, 2019, after a long battle with a pancreatic ailment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after talks with the then French President, Francois Hollande, in Paris on April 10, 2015. The final deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.