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Defence Minister defends shastra puja for Rafale jets

October 12, 2019

India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has defended his gesture of doing a shastra puja for the new Rafale aircraft. The Opposition had criticised Singh for doing a traditional puja when the first Rafale aircraft was handed over to India by France at a function in Delhi this week.

"People can say whatever they want. I did what I thought was right and I will continue to do so. This is our faith, that there is a superpower and I have believed it since childhood", said Singh to the media.

He also added that people from all religions have the right to pray according to their beliefs.

I would not have objected if someone else had done the same. I feel there must have been a difference of opinion over the issue in Congress as well, it would not have been everybody's opinion. - Rajnath Singh, Union Defence Minister

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had called the Defence Minister's prayers a tamasha and said that the Congress did no such display when the Bofors guns were purchased.

However, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi supported Singh's gesture saying in a tweet that the minister "is just following customs" and that "if an Indian is performing a Pooja as per Indian customs, there is no need to deride it. Raksha Mantri is just following customs".

In a surprising gesture, Pakistan Army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor supported Singh as well. Ghafoor said "Nothing wrong as it goes by the religion and that must be respected. Please, remember, it's not the machine alone which matters but competence, passion & resolve of the men handling that machine"

Seven Rafale fighter jets will arrive in India by April or May 2020.



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