Reacting to Janta Ka Reporter’s huge expose on Rafale fighter jets deal, the Congress party on Tuesday said that the Centre’s Narendra Modi government was indulging in an unforgivable game of compromising ‘National Interests’ and ‘National Security’.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, the party’s head of communications, Randeep Singh Surjewala, said that a ‘huge Scam’ was brewing in the procurement of fighter aircrafts for Indian Air Force.
He said, “Grave apprehensions and claims of insurmountable loss being caused to public exchequer are in public domain with the government maintaining a conspiratorial silence.
Complete non-transparency, flagrant violation of the mandatory provisions of ‘Defence Procurement Procedure’, sacrificing the National Interests on ‘Transfer of Technology’ to a government PSU i.e. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and blatant promotion of financial interests of ‘crony capitalist friends’ of Prime Minister have marred the purchase of 36 ‘Rafel Fighter Aircrafts’ by Modi government from the ‘Dassault Aviation’ of France.”
In our EXCLUSIVE report, Janta Ka Reporter had asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi had junked the UPA’s defence deal with the French company on 126 Rafale fighter jets with transfer of technology to India to help his friend Anil Ambani. His decision cost India thousands of crores and resulted in the loss of technology that could have secured the indigenous manufacturing of these fighter aircrafts in future?
We had highlighted how by scrapping the deal struck by the UPA 2 and India had secured 26 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation of France at considerably high prices. The deal struck by the Modi government was also minus transfer of technology clause, something the Congress-led UPA had managed to include into the previous deal.
What was also intriguing was how the Anil Ambani, the billionaire friend of the prime minister, had entered into a joint venture with Dassault Aviation just ten days after the Indian government signed the deal with the French aviation company.
Giving the timeline of the event Surjewala said, ” Rafel emerged as L-1 vendor with base price of US$ 10.2 billion ((Rs.54,000 crore as per 2012 conversion rate) on 12 December 2012. Out of 126, 18 Aircrafts would come in flyaway condition with remaining 108 Aircrafts being manufactured in India by HAL with transfer of technology. In addition, there was a 50% offset clause requiring the Dassault Aviation to invest 50% of the sale price by way of investment in India.
Surjewala said that On 13 March 2014, the work share agreement was signed between the HAL and Dassault Aviation. 70% work of 108 Aircrafts to be made in India was to be done by the HAL and 30% by Dassault. However, on 10 April 2015, nearly a year after Modi became India’s prime minister, he visited France and announced the deal for purchase of 36 Rafel Fighter Aircrafts in flyaway condition.
“This was done unilaterally without following the Defence Procurement Procedure, without
inter-governmental agreement and in absence of India’s Defence Minister. However, Shri Anil Ambani, owner of Reliance Defence Limited was present in France with PM Modi.”
Surjewala added, “The Modi government signed the deal for purchase of 36 Rafel Fighter Aircrafts of Dassault for US$ 8.7 billion as per information in public domain on 23 September 2016. On 3 October 2016, Reliance Defence Limited of Shri Anil Ambani ties up with Dassault Aviation of France for a joint venture for defence production in India.”
The Congress leader asked why the Modi government was buying 36 Rafel Aircrafts at an highly inflated price compared to the originally negotiated base price by UPA-Congress government.
He said, “Is it correct that UPA government negotiated 126 Rafel Aircrafts at a base price of
US$10.2 billion with transfer of technology? Is it also correct that Modi government is buying 36 Rafel Aircrafts without transfer of technology for US$ 8.7 billion? Does it not mean that 126 Rafel Aircrafts would have cost US$ 30.45 billion (without transfer of technology) at the price arrived at by Modi government?”
He continued, “Is it not then correct that per aircraft pricing of Rafel as per UPA negotiation
comes to US$ 80.95 million (Rs.526.1 crore) as against Modi government’s per
aircraft negotiated price of US$ 241.66 million (Rs.1570.8 crore) as per current
exchange rate? Who is responsible for loss to exchequer?
“How did Prime Minister take a unilateral decision on buying the 36 aircrafts of
Dassault by-passing the mandatory ‘Defence Procurement Procedure’ and in
absence of an inter-governmental agreement with France at that time? Why has Modi government forgone transfer of technology for the defence acquisition ever in favour of a public sector undertaking i.e. HAL, more so when the former Defence Minister had publicly stated about possibility of buying more Rafel Aircrafts in future?”
Surjewala also asked why Modi had promoted the interests of ‘one industrial group i.e. Reliance Defence Limited, which subsequently led to the company tying up and entering into a joint venture with Dassault Aviation worth Rs.30,000 crore.
He said, “Why was this done by Prime Minister bypassing the interests of a reputed
public sector undertaking like HAL? Why has the joint venture for the biggest-ever Indian defence deal between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence Limited not gone through the proper procedure of approval by the Union Cabinet, Cabinet Committee on Security and
Foreign Investment Promotion Board?”