Congress busts govt’s veil on Rafale deal
Cong released the controversial data from the annual report of the French giant Dassault Aviation to show they were bought at thrice the price negotiated by the Manmohan Singh government.
New Delhi : The Government’s concerted bid to hide the price of 36 Rafale fighter jets contracted by Prime Minister Modi as a defence secret fell flat on Friday when the Congress released the controversial data from the annual report of the French giant Dassault Aviation to show they were bought at thrice the price negotiated by the Manmohan Singh government.
Extracts from the company’s annual report released by Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad at a press conference show that each aircraft will cost Rs 1670 crore as against Rs 526 crore in the deal made by the previous UPA government for 126 aircraft that was scrapped to sanctify one made by Modi during a Paris trip.
The annual report also nailed another ‘lie’ of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that no final decision had been taken on the offset contracts as it clearly states that the deal has been made with the Reliance Group.
It puts on record that India had ordered 36 Rafale aircraft in 2016 for 7.5 billion Euro, which comes to Rs 1670 crore per piece. Azad, who addressed the press conference along with former Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh and Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala, said this is a huge scam putting the public exchequer to the loss of thousands of crores.
He said the time was over for the Prime Minister to hide behind silence and sophistry as he bought the aircraft at much higher price even compared to the orders received by Dassault around the same time for 24 fight jets each from Qatar and Egypt for Rs 1319 crore each.
On page 37 of the annual report, Dassault says: “India ordered 36 Rafales in 2016, a contract that led to the creation of a joint venture with Reliance Group to manage the offsets provided for by the country’s ‘’Make in India’’ initiative. This company will be a major asset, given the emerging needs of the Indian armed forces.”
The Congress leaders said this could be contrasted with Sitharaman’s statement: “No offset contract has been signed so far. It could happen if two private firms come together. That doesn’t require the ministry’s permission.”
They said she had also argued that the Prime Minister had nothing to do if two private entities come together to sign a contract. Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly said the public sector HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) which was to get the offset contract was discarded in favour of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.
Surjewala said: “If the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister of the country lie to the nation, who will enforce transparency? The Modi government is unforgivably guilty of compromising national interest and national security. Shoddy cover-up, self-defeating assertions and deliberate lies are being dished out to divert, dupe and deceive. The time to be opaque and hide behind silence and sophistry is over. Modi ji should answer questions now.”
Quoting from the Dassault report, he said: “In 2015, Rafale sold 24 aircraft each to Egypt and Qatar. Indian purchase of Rafale aircraft was signed on September 23, 2016. Price of 48 aircraft (24 to Egypt & 24 to Qatar) is shown as Euro 7.9 bn. Price of 36 aircraft sold to India is shown as Euro 7.5 billion. Price per aircraft sold to Egypt/Qatar comes to Rs 1,319.80 crore as compared to Rs 1,670.70 crore per aircraft to India. We are clearly paying an extra price of Rs 350.90 crore per aircraft or Rs 12,632 crore for 36 aircraft.”