Congress raises questions over Rafale deal, BJP hits back

Surjewala said the UPA government floated a tender on August 20, 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.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: November 14, 2017 9:50 pm
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala questions BJP over Rafale deal Congress leader Randeep Surjewala. (File)

Raising questions over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, the Congress on Tuesday accused the government of having compromised national interest and security while promoting “crony capitalism” and causing a loss to the public exchequer. The BJP rubbished the allegation, claiming it was intended to “divert attention” as the party bigwigs faced the prospect of being questioned in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scandal.

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

He also alleged that the aircraft was being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government.

The BJP hit right back, with its spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao claiming that the Congress party was engaging in a “stunt” by raising the Rafale issue as it was scared at the prospect of its top leadership, including the Gandhis, being questioned in the VVIP chopper scam.

He said after the arrest of middleman Carlos Gerosa in Italy last month and his likely extradition to India soon, “the Congress has made baseless allegations over Rafale deal to divert public attention and to cry political vendetta”.

“None of these stunts will work and the Congress must be ready to answer who took bribes in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal as the money trail is going to become known after the extradition of Carlos Gerosa,” he told PTI.

“Modi government is known for integrity and all its actions are above board, while the Congress party is synonymous with sleaze, corruption and crony capitalism,” he said.

In a statement, Reliance Defence Limited dubbed the allegations made against it by the Congress as “baseless and unfounded”.

Surjewala said the UPA government floated a tender on August 20, 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 December 12, 2012, Rafale was declared L1 vendor, the bidder whose quotation is the lowest, with base price of USD 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 techonology, he said.

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

Later, he said, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited tied up with Dassault Aviation for a joint venture for defence production in India on October 3, 2016.

“There is complete non-transparency, flagrant violation of mandatory provision of Defence Procurement Procedure, sacrificing national interest on transfer of technology to PSU HAL and blatant promotion of financial interests of crony capitalist friends of the prime minister have marred the purchase of the aircraft,” Surjewala alleged.

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 1570.80 crore, he said, adding “huge” loss was being caused to the exchequer.

“The Modi government is indulging in an unforgivable game of compromising national Interest and national security. A huge scam is brewing in the procurement of fighter aircraft.

“Grave apprehensions and claims of insurmountable loss being caused to public exchequer are in public domain with the government maintaining a conspiratorial silence,” he said.

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

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

Reliance Defence said its subsidiary Reliance Aerostructure and Dassault Aviation formed a joint venture -Dassault Reliance Aerospace, after a bilateral agreement between two private companies and “the Indian government has no role to play in this.”

Reliance Defence claimed that government policy of June 24, 2016 allows for 49 per cent FDI in the defence sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval.

“No approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of the aforesaid joint venture company under the automatic route,” it said, brushing aside the Congress’ charge that prime minister Modi promoted interests of a group.

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  1. Vipul Nayak
    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:20 pm
    Rs. 54,000 crs. for 126 rafale jets by congress UPA and Rs. 60,000 cos. for only 36 rafale jets by BJP....WHICH IS better for country...of course congress UPA deal...
    1. S
      Sing is
      Nov 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm
      Modi is very corrupt.
      1. Bankimchandra Desai
        Nov 15, 2017 at 10:19 am
        Dormant for years ,#Bedbugs open eyes ! Reliance Industries Limited has not progressed in last three years , What did UPA do from RIL's inception rise of #DhiruAmbani through #Corrupt OnlyCorrupt Methods because for RIL #MNAmbani Growth is Life . RIL #MukeshNitaAmbani are synonymous with corruption in India . Will Congress #Dare2Demand SCI inquiry on #PiggyCompanies of #MNAmbani ,RIL ?
        1. V
          Nov 14, 2017 at 10:57 pm
          We think, as BJP's friends, that the govt should answer the charge of the cost overrun, of Rafale aircraft from 500 to >1500 crores. One charge cannot be wished away by citing a counter charge. Explanation is necessary.
          1. K
            K. Dutt
            Nov 15, 2017 at 11:03 am
            Since Surjewala will never be able to, I suggest that you read from MOD announcements (like I did) the difference in the two contracts, assuming you have the background. You are likely to find that thirty-six Rafales were purchased at Fly-away condition, that is without the massive expenditure of designing and building b new production facilities in India. These fighter jets are also vastly more lethal with advanced navigation, command control, radar array, beyond the visual range armaments and so on, to meet the IAF specs. Also, on the business end of the this contract, there are requirements of investing several billions from purchase dollars in India with an Indian partner. Delivery dates are critical as IAF is seriously under-equipped. To compare the two contracts, one needs to closely examine the two - one (126 basic Rafale fighters) was a only proposal and the other (36 complete with armaments)) a signed detail contract. Surjewala is a political hack. What does he know?
            1. Bloggervat Bloggervat
              Nov 15, 2017 at 5:01 pm
              Sir. How come in one year France is able to sell us all the upgraded versions? Are u kidding me? First tell this basic question. Why did the govt keep petro prices high and earned 3.6L cr as tax, but did NOT charge 15L cr from corporates like Ambani, Essar etc as tax for petrol? What is the need to declare this as REVENUE FOREGONE?
              1. A
                Ankur Gupta
                Nov 28, 2017 at 6:10 am
                Oh mr brahmgyani...just answer my one simple question..why is Anil Ambani group who has zero technical know how in defence is made a party to the contract..why can’t HUL been solely given the command?
            2. J
              jay desouza
              Nov 14, 2017 at 10:36 pm
              Hey Surjewala: Wonder why you lick the shoes of a worthless kid who refuses to grow, has no intellect, no skills, no accomplishments,.........? Instead lick the claws of Pidi, she is smarter, you will get more pleasure.
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