New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday questioned the Rafale fighter deal, alleging "a huge scam is brewing" and indicating the issue would be used in the Gujarat election to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi who continues to highlight his government's "clean" record.
"Complete non-transparency, flagrant violation of mandatory provisions of the defence procurement procedure, sacrificing national interests on transfer of technology and blatant crony capitalism have marred the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from Dassault Aviation of France," Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said at a news conference.
Surjewala recalled that the Manmohan Singh government had finalised the deal in 2012 after following the due process.
"Of 126 aircraft, 18 were to come in fly-away condition with remaining 108 being manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with transfer of technology. There was a 50 per cent offset clause requiring the Dassault Aviation to invest half of the sale price in India."
Surjewala added: "Even the work-share agreement was signed between HAL and Dassault Aviation. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France and unilaterally, without following procedures, announced the purchase of 36 aircraft in flyaway condition. In July 2015, the Modi government cancelled the deal for procurement of 126 aircraft and in September 2016, signed the deal for purchase of 36 aircraft."
Surjewala added: "On February 16, 2017, Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence, through its subsidiary Reliance Defence and Aerospace Limited, inked a joint venture with Dassault Aviation. The company's website, R. Infra reflects, that they are undertaking offset obligations of Rs 30,000 crore with Dassault Aviation for 36 Rafale aircraft. This means the total cost of 36 Rafale aircraft being purchased by government is Rs 60,000 crore."
Surjewala asked Modi to answer why the government was buying the aircraft at a "highly inflated price". "Is it correct that the base price of $10.2 billion with transfer of technology was negotiated by the UPA government? Is it not then correct that per aircraft pricing of Rafale, as per UPA negotiation, comes to Rs 526.1 crore against the Modi government's Rs 1,570.8 crore?"