The million dollar Rafale fighter jet deal become the bone of contention between the Congress and the BJP while Congress President Rahul Gandhi wants to take the issue to the next level. After Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched a no-holds barred attack on the Congress and Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, the latter decided to meet party’s core group on Thursday morning to chalk out strategy to further step up the offensive on the Modi government over the controvesial military jet deal.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote a Facebook post accusing the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi of “peddling untruth” and carrying out a “false campaign” on the deal. He said the deal signed by the NDA government was on better terms than the one agreed to in 2007 under the UPA regime.
Though, India and France signed an Euro 7.87-billion (Rs 59,000 crore approximately) deal on September 23, 2016 for 36 Rafale jets, controversy surrounding the mega deal refuses to die down. Here are the allegations and counter-allegations:
1) The Congress alleged that the NDA government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government while the NDA government refused to talk about the prices, said the cost of 36 Rafale jets cannot be “directly compared” with the original proposal to buy 126 combat aircraft as “deliverables” were significantly different.
2) Congress questioned how PM Modi finalised the deal without approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Jaitley said UPA delayed the deal by over a decade comprising national security and Congress’s false campaign launched on Rafale deal has been casting a cloud on the inter-governmental agreement and compromising national security.
3) Congress claimed that both Egypt and Qatar had purchased Rafale fighter jets at much lower prices than India. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the base price of each aircraft negotiated by the government with France is at 91.75 million Euro, nine per cent less than the 100.85 million Euro the UPA government had decided upon. The government also claimed that both Egypt and Qatar paid higher price than India did but their specific enhancement requirements are not known making a comparison with India little meaningless.
4) The Congress also alleged the government was benefitting the Reliance Defence Ltd (RDL) through the deal as the company has set up a joint venture with Dassault Aviation to execute the offset obligation for the Rs 59,000 crore deal. The party alleged Reliance Defence was formed just 12 days before the announcement of the Rafale deal by the prime minister on April 10, 2015. The RDL has rejected all the charges.
5) The Congress has also sought to know price details of the aircraft and how the rate per aircraft has gone up from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,670 crore. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that per unit cost of Rafale
jet fighters could not be shared with Parliament due to a secrecy clause mentioned in the inter-governmental agreement between India and France, targetted Congress’ A K Antony, who was defence minister in 2008 as he did not divulge data about sensitive defence equipments.
6) The Congress claimed per aircraft rate including avionics and weapons was zeroed in at Rs 526 crore (As per Euro exchange rates prevailing then). Jaitly said details of the negotiatied price per Rafale were not officially announced, but it was suggested by the then UPA government that the size of the deal would be USD 10.2 billion. According to the government the Rafale deal’s cost also comprises the cost towards India specific enhancements in the jet fighters at a cost of Euro 1.7 billion. Another Euro 1.8 billion was paid towards engines and other parts of the Rafale jets. An additional Euro 700 million was paid for compatible weaponry – SCALP and Meteor missiles. Euro 350 million was paid for performance-based logistics.
(With agency inputs)