Keen to keep the Rafale deal issue alive, the Congress Wednesday approached the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and told him that the government has caused loss to the public exchequer and endangered national security by purchasing 36 jets at a higher price than the deal negotiated by the UPA government. It also alleged that the government bypassed state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for an offset contract for the benefit of “crony friends”.
“The manner in which the deal to buy Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft was suddenly shelved, the shoddy cover-up, the self-defeating assertions and the deliberate lies have caused grave apprehensions in the minds of the Indian people vis-à-vis a major scandal in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets… The Modi Government remains opaque, intransient, obscure and obstinate to cover up the Rafale scam,” the Congress said in a memorandum to the CAG Rajiv Mehrishi.
“We have given a detailed memorandum, along with enclosures on irregularities and acts of omission and commission by the government in the fighter jet deal. We expect the CAG will prepare a report soon and present it before Parliament,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said.
The Congress said Prime Minister Narendra Modi violated the mandatory Defence Procurement Procedure when he announced the deal on April 10, 2015, during a visit to France.
To back its claim that the government caused loss to the exchequer, the Congress claimed that “as against the originally negotiated price of UPA deal, Modi government’s purchase price is over 300 per cent higher”.
It also claimed that Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale jets, sold 48 aircraft each to Egypt and Qatar at a much lower price.
The memorandum further said, “Rafale became L1 in the financial bid. However, after the induction of Modi Government, Eurofighter Typhoon admittedly wrote a letter to the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley offering to reduce the price by 20 per cent. Once PM Modi decided to make a fresh purchase of Rafale, both companies should have been asked to bid afresh through ‘Inter Governmental Agreement’ route so as to arrive at the lowest price…”