BJP Paid More Than What UPA had Fixed For Rafale Jets: Congress

The Congress also alleged that PM Modi had “forgone transfer of technology” to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

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Raising questions over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, the Congress on Tuesday, 14 November, accused the Narendra Modi-led government of having compromised national interest and security while promoting "crony capitalism," causing a loss to the public exchequer.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rubbished the allegations, claiming it was intended to "divert attention" as Congress bigwigs faced the prospect of being questioned in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scandal.

The Congress' communications department head, Randeep Surjewala, said the Central government neglected the interests of public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), as Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of the Rafale aircraft, refused to transfer technology to it and instead entered into an agreement with Reliance Defence.

Surjewala said the aircraft was being purchased at a much higher rate than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government.

The Congress leader said the UPA government floated a tender on 20 August 2007 for purchase of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the air force and, post negotiations, two of them – Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon – remained in the reckoning.

On 12 December 2012, Rafale was declared L1 vendor, the bidder whose quotation was the lowest, with a base price of US $10.20 billion (Rs 54,000 crore, according to the conversion rate prevalent then).

It was decided that of the 126 aircraft, 18 would come in fly away condition and the remaining 108 will be manufactured in India by HAL with transfer of technology, he said.

After the the BJP formed the government in May 2014, the earlier Request for Proposal (RFP) for purchase of 126 aircraft was cancelled on 30 July 2015, and signed a deal on September 26 the next year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets for US $8.7 billion.

On 3 October 2016, Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Limited tied up with Dassault Aviation for a joint venture for defence production in India.

The Congress leader claimed that each aircraft would have cost Rs 526.10 crore in accordance with the negotiations under the UPA dispensation. Each aircraft would now cost Rs 1,570.80 crore, he said, adding that "huge" losses were being caused to the exchequer.

Surjewala also alleged that the deal between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence Limited did not have the approval of the Union Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Security and Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

"It is time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to answer to the people of India as to why the government is buying 36 Rafale aircraft at a highly inflated price compared to the originally negotiated base price of the UPA," he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

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