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Rafale row: Cong accuses govt of hurting national interests

10 March 2018

Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Randeep Surjewala said while 36 Rafale jets were sold to India at 7.5 billion Euros in 2016, 48 jets were sold to Qatar and Egypt at 7.9 billion Euros in 2015.

Jaitley presented before the Parliament responses of Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony from the time when they were defence ministers as examples of how the UPA, too, never disclosed details of purchase.

Pointing out that Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were both found equals on all technical requirements by Indian Air Force and that on July 4, 2014; Eurofighter Typhoon wrote to the then Defence Minister, Arun Jaitley offering to reduce prices by 20 per cent, Mr Surjewala asked, 'Once PM Modi had chose to purchase the aircrafts afresh, should both companies i.e. Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon not have been asked to bid afresh through IGA route so as to arrive at the lowest price in favour of public exchequer?

The report states, "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". However, the government has maintained that the contract for offsets has not been finalised by the vendor so far. "It could happen if two private firms come together".

He also questioned why was the PSU, HAL by-passed for getting Rs 30,000 crore worth offset contract despite the work share agreement with Dassault Aviation dated 13.03.2014.

Surjewala said: "If the Prime Minister and the defence minister lie to the nation, who will enforce transparency?"

"Is this not compromising with national security?" Shoddy "cover-up", "self-defeating assertions" & "deliberate lies" are being dished out to "divert", "dupe" & "deceive", said Surjewala in a tweet. "Modiji should answer questions now".

'The Dassault Aviation i.e. manufacturer of Rafale aircraft has placed Annual Report 2016 in public domain. Indian purchase of Rafale aircraft was signed on 23rd September, 2016. The price per aircraft sold to Egypt/Qatar comes to Rs 1,319.80 crore compared to Rs 1,670.70 crore for India.

It said the fighter jet has been sold to India at a price that is Rs 350.90 crore higher per aircraft than what Egypt and Qatar paid for the aircraft just 11 months before Modi signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement for the purchase of 36 aircraft.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the government can not reveal the price at which it has bought Rafale fighter jets from France, due to its adherence to the Inter-Governmental Agreement inked for the purchase of the aircraft.

The Congress Party on Friday charged that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was jeopardising the national security by cancelling the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) Rafale aircraft deal. Can the job of eight squadrons be done by two squadrons?

Asked about Sitharaman's claim that the price escalated because of the missiles systems and other add-ons, Surjewala said: "Was the previous government buying fighter jets without these systems for a joyride?"

Rafale row: Cong accuses govt of hurting national interests