Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Saturday stepped up Congress’ attack on the Centre over the Rafale deal, demanding a public debate and a detailed inquiry. Addressing a press conference at the party office in Kolkata today, the senior Congress leader accused the Centre of ignoring the defence procurement procedure and “bypassing” several committees to secure the deal.
“We think that the matter is serious enough that there should be a public debate and there should be a detailed inquiry. Which is why the Congress President and the party has raised it,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.
Chidambaram further alleged that the Cabinet Committee on Security was not taken into confidence by the government before signing the deal. “Why was the defence procurement procedure ignored in the Rafale deal… and why were the Contract Negotiation Committee and the Price Negotiation Committee kept in the dark about it? The Cabinet Committee on Security was also not taken into confidence,” he said.
Opposition parties allege that BJP government bought 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, built by Dassault Aviation of France at a much higher price than the one that was being negotiated for 126 aircraft by the previous UPA government.
The Congress leader also alleged that there was a huge difference in the price per aircraft secured by the UPA regime and as opposed to what has been agreed upon now by the NDA government. “The UPA contract priced the Rafale jets at Rs 526 crore per aircraft and the NDA contract priced them at Rs 1,670 crore per aircraft. If these numbers are correct, will someone explain why the prices jumped three times?” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Earlier, Congress party decided to launch a month-long, nationwide campaign to attack the BJP government over the controversial Rafale deal. The party also urged other opposition parties to come together in order to mount a united attack on the centre.