Taking on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government for “compromising national security”, former Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Friday asked why did the government buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets when the Air Force had requested for 126.
Chidambaram’s comments come in the wake of fresh revelations in The Hindu on Rafale deal where it has been claimed that PM Modi’s decision to buy 36 aircraft instead of 126 pushed the price of each jet up by 41.42 per cent with the government ending up paying Rs 186 crore more per plane.
Chidambaram said one question has loomed large ever since the Prime Minister announced in Paris that the earlier UPA-negotiated deal for 126 aircraft was scrapped and he had agreed on a new deal to buy 36 aircraft, ” Why did the government reject the Air Force’s need and demand for 126 fighter aircraft (7 squadrons) and decide to buy only 36 aircraft (2 squadrons)?”
According to the Investigative report published in The Hindu, the price negotiated by the UPA government in 2007 was €79.3 million per bare-bones aircraft. In 2011, that price had escalated to €100.85 million per aircraft. In 2016, the ‘discount’ of 9 per cent negotiated by the NDA government brought down the price (presumably after factoring in the escalation between 2011 and 2016) to € 91.75 million.
Chidambaram also claimed that Dassault gains in two ways. First, the price per aircraft, because of India Specific Enhancements (ISE), would have increased by €10.3 million if 126 aircraft had been ordered.
Under the new agreement for only 36 aircraft, the price per aircraft, because of ISE, will increase by €36.11 million. Second, calculating net present value of money, the €1300 million that Dassault will recover (by 2022) will be much higher than the €1300 million it would have recovered (by 2029 or so).
This is the gift to Dassault that the NDA government gave between April 2015 and August 2016, Chidambaram added. Chidambaram reiterated his party’s stand demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal alleging a scam by the Modi government.
Earlier in the day, the Congress leader also took to Twitter to question the government and its motive to buy fewer fighter jets.
In the light of new facts and revelations in THE HINDU, the question gains greater urgency: why did the government buy only 36 Rafale aircraft instead of 126 aircraft required by the Air Force?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) January 18, 2019
The tweet read: “In the light of new facts and revelations in THE HINDU, the question gains greater urgency: why did the government buy only 36 Rafale aircraft instead of 126 aircraft required by the Air Force?,” Chidambaram asked.
“The Government has compromised national security by denying the Air Force of 126 aircraft that it desperately needs,” he said.