New Delhi: Escalating its attack on the Rafale deal, a high-level Congress delegation on Wednesday met Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi with its demand for a probe into the Narendra Modi government’s deal with France to purchase 36 fighter jets. The part has been saying that the deal has caused “loss” to the exchequer and “endangered” national security.
The party later claimed that the CAG told the delegation that the auditor was examining the entire issue and would soon submit a report to Parliament. The delegation that included party leaders — Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ahmed Patel and Randeep Singh Surjewala — also submitted a memorandum to the CAG giving the history of the proposal to buy Rafale fighter jets, the process for which began in 2007.
The memorandum said that “unilateral” purchase of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation has caused “loss to public exchequer, endangered national security, bypassed Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to benefit crony friends, and violated the mandatory provisions of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)”. The memorandum to the CAG marks escalation by the Congress of its fight against the Modi government over the Rafale issue, on which the party has held press conferences in different parts of the country. Former Defence Minister A.K. Antony had on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Modi led-NDA government of compromising national security by reducing the number of fighter planes to be procured from 126 as negotiated by the UPA government to 36. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had countered the charges and held the erstwhile UPA regime responsible for the exclusion of HAL in the deal.
Surjewala said Modi is “personally responsible” for violating the DPP and exclusion of the HAL from getting an offset contract worth over Rs 30,000 crore from Dassault Aviation. The memorandum includes “acts of commission and omission” by the government in the deal announced by Modi in April 2015. Pointing to the violations of DPP by Modi, the memorandum states: “No mandatory prior approval of ‘Cabinet Committee on Security’ was taken before announcing purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft on 10th April, 2015.
It said that against the originally negotiated price of the UPA deal, the Modi government’s purchase price “is over 300 per cent higher, involving an extra outflow of money from public exchequer of Rs 41,000 crore, approximately”. The party said that Rafale-Dassault Aviation sold 48 Rafale aircraft to Egypt and Qatar in 2015, and the 2016 annual report of the company reflects their price as Euro 7.9 billion as against the price of 36 Rafale aircrafts sold to India for Euro 7.5 billion.
The party also alleged that the private entity “now claims to have secured an additional Rs 1,00,000 crore of ‘Lifecycle Cost Contract’ over and above the Rs 30,000 crore ‘offset contract’, taking the total value to be an astounding Rs 1,30,000 crore”. It also accused Sitharaman of “lying” about the offset contract. (IANS)