Defending the Centre on the Rafale deal, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said if he opens his mouth, then those making allegations against the government will not have a face to show. “It is better that I keep quiet,” said Singh.
Singh was in the city to launch the BJP’s “Bharat ke Mann ki Baat, Modi ke Saath” campaign. Later, the former Army chief said the allegations are being made on incomplete information and the entire deal should not be looked at it in isolation but should be considered with all the factors associated with it.
“There is a long process of Defence forces before deciding on the procurement of weapons. It is based on the demand that the deal is made. The negotiations on price is done later on and finalised on what is good for the country,” he said.
The Union minister said the controversy on offset partner in the deal is uncalled for as it is decided by the supplying company and not the government. “The offset partner is decided considering that the same industry should begin here. It is decided by the concerned company after being satisfied with the agency as offset partner. It is not merely giving money,” he said.
Singh said if the company was not satisfied with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) as offset partner then it was their decision and not that of the government. “We have observed HAL performance. There have been deaths of two pilots recently. The program of manufacturing aircaft is running late by three and a half years. We are refurbishing eighth aircraft as of now. The parts of the aircraft fall apart on the runway itself. Is that the capability? Even after that issue is raised that the work is not being given to HAL,” Union minister said.
“During my tenure in defence, I had raised voice against the procurement of Tatra trucks. We were to purchase 6,000 trucks price of which was Rs 25 lakh each but was being sold to us for Rs one crore each. I am not going into where the remaining money was going,” added Singh.
He said the previous government has completed the process of procuring 126 Rafale aircraft but cancelled it at the last minute which was despite the demand of Indian Air Force to increase its capability by having more squadrons in service.
Accusing the opposition of creating a political issue out of the deal, Singh said, “The controversy is created by the strategist in the opposition parties to make the Rafale deal controversy look similar as that of Bofors.”
Talking about the indigenously developed Marut aircraft in the 1960s by the government, Singh said it was locally designed but could not take off as we cannot make an appropriate engine for it. “The Americans offered to provide the engine but after finding the aircraft to be much advanced they ensured that it did not perform as their aeronautical industry would suffer. We scrapped the project. Later, the French government urged to study the aircraft which the then government allowed saying no harm as it is a static plane. They studied it and on that basis started Mirage series. Thereafter, there was loss of entire data about the aircraft so no future development could take place. If the allegations are made against the Union government on these issues then who should be held responsible for this. This is the biggest treason,” he said.
The Union minister lamented that the situation is the same as the Tejas aircraft. “Tejas faces same problem. We do not have engine and had to import it. The foreign aeronautical industry is insecure with our work in the ongoing competition. Thus, if we are able to get technology transfer then it is good or we should go by the old technology,” he said.