Making Prime Minister Narendra Modi is only accountable for the inflated price of the Rafale jet fighter, Congress today accused that the PM has almost doubled the accumulative price of the 36-jet fighter deal, as he overlooked dissent from his own ministries.
According to Congress, PM Modi had discarded “dissenting notes” sent by Law Ministry, Ministry of Defence and Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in persuasion of the deal. It claimed that that enhanced benchmark price for Rafale jet fighter was earlier Euro 3 Billion, that is Rs 22,743 Crores, but PM Modi enhanced to Euro 8.2 Billion (Rs 62,166 Cr), in order to benefit one of his cronies.
Sharing the timeline of the meetings and discussions held regarding the purchase of the Rafale jets, the head of the Congress media cell, Randeep Surjewala, alleged that the negotiating team and Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, had a serious dispute on the fixing of benchmark price but ultimately, they gave up. Not only did the PM increase the benchmark price, but he also relaxed the “sovereign agreement” requirement for the French company Dassault, said Congress.
Referring to a note of the Law Ministry, Surjewala said that, on December 9, 2015, the Union Law Ministry flagged the issue of no bank guarantee/sovereign guarantee by the French Government and noted the concern that the contract involves huge pay-outs from public exchequer, without actual delivery in form of advance payments, but the PM did not pay any heed.
Questioning National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s involvement in the deal, Surjewala claimed NSA Doval travelled to Paris at behest of the PM and negotiated the price of the jet fighter deal, which is in the complete violation of the established norms. If the agreement is between Indian & French Govt (IGA), as stated, how can the arbitration be held between India & Dassault Aviation?, he asked.