Cong claims NDA in­volved in Rafale air­craft buy­ing scam

The Free Press Journal - - NATION -

The Congress on Tues­day mounted an at­tack on the rul­ing NDA for its al­leged in­volve­ment in a "huge scam" of can­cel­ing an UPA time deal to buy 126 Rafale com­bat air­craft from the French firm Das­sault Avi­a­tion to help ben­e­fit its “cap­i­tal­ist friend” Anil Am­bani, who later en­tered into a joint ven­ture deal with the same firm for the new In­dian con­tract for 36 air­craft.

The gov­ern­ment is now buy­ing 36 air­craft through Am­bani at a cost of Rs 60,000 crore as against the UPA’s deal of buy­ing 126, with tech­nol­ogy trans­fer agree­ment, for just Rs 54,000 crore.

The Re­liance De­fence chief vis­ited France on April 10, 2015 and his com­pany inked a joint ven­ture deal with Das­sault in Fe­bru­ary this year for pro­duc­ing the same air­craft af­ter the gov­ern­ment can­celled the ear­lier deal for 126 Rafale fighter air­craft, Congress chief spokesman Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala al­leged.

He told a press con­fer­ence here that this machi­na­tion of the NDA to help Am­bani has caused heavy loss to the pub­lic sec­tor Hindustan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL), which was to man­u­fac­ture 108 of th­ese medium mul­ti­role com­bat air­craft in its fac­to­ries in In­dia as trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy.

The Congress has dug out the scam to use it in the Gu­jarat Assem­bly elec­tions, of which nom­i­na­tions for the first phase be­gan on Tues­day, to show that even the NDA is not clean but in­volved in mas­sive cor­rup­tion of help­ing out an in­dus­tri­al­ist friend, com­pro­mis­ing both na­tional in­ter­ests and se­cu­rity.

That the NDA gov­ern­ment put HAL to loss is breath­ing down the neck of the In­dian Air Force (IAF) to buy the light com­bat air­craft, Te­jas, pro­duced by it and not in­sist on the US fighter jet F-16 or the Swedish Saab JAS-39 de­spite the IAF fault­ing Te­jas on many counts, risk­ing the coun­try’s sky se­cu­rity.

The deal struck on De­cem­ber 12, 2012 was for sup­ply of 126 air­craft at the base price of US$ 10.2 bil­lion (Rs 54,000 crore at that time), in­clud­ing 18 to come in fly­away con­di­tion and the rest in In­dia, with a rider that Das­sault will in­vest 50% of the sale price in In­dia.

Sur­je­w­ala said the NDA over­turned the deal by an­nounc­ing to buy not 18 but 36 in fly­away con­di­tion dur­ing his France visit on 10.04.2015 uni­lat­er­ally with­out fol­low­ing the de­fence pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dure, keep­ing in dark even then de­fence min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar, who is now Goa''s chief min­is­ter.

Later on July 30, 2015, the NDA gov­ern­ment can­celled the pur­chase deal for pro­cure­ment of 126 fighter air­craft and en­tered into a deal with Das­sault on 23.09.2016 to buy 36 Rafale fight­ers for US$ 8.7 bil­lion.

The deal was sealed at US$ 241.66 per air­craft that too with­out trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy at triple the price of US$ 80.95 mil­lion (Rs 526.1 crore) per air­craft ne­go­ti­ated by the UPA gov­ern­ment with the trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy to HAL, Sur­je­w­ala said.

The real scam un­earthed within 13 days of the gov­ern­ment sign­ing the deal to pur­chase 36 Rafale air­craft on 03.10.2016 when Am­bani''s Re­liance De­fence Lim­ited tied up with Das­sault for a joint ven­ture for de­fence pro­duc­tion in In­dia. More clar­ity about the scam emerged on Fe­bru­ary 16 this year when the Re­liance De­fence through its sub­sidiary Re­liance De­fence and Aero­space Lim­ited inked the joint ven­ture deal with Das­sault and its web­site R.In­fra said it was un­der­tak­ing off­set obli­ga­tion of Rs 30,000 crore with Das­sault for 36 Rafale air­craft In­dia is to buy.

Sur­je­w­ala said it shows that the to­tal cost of 36 Rafale air­craft be­ing bought by the NDA gov­ern­ment is Rs 60,000 crore as against the Rs 54,000-crore deal made by the UPA gov­ern­ment for 126 air­craft and that too with tech­nol­ogy trans­fer clause.

He said the NDA must an­swer why the gov­ern­ment is buy­ing 36 Rafale air­craft at such a highly in­flated price.

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