Congress sees scam in Rafale air­craft deal

Anil Am­bani’s Re­liance De­fence Ltd. terms charges base­less

The Hindu - - NEWS - Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

Al­leg­ing that a “scam is brew­ing” in the pur­chase of Rafale jets from France, the Congress on Tues­day ac­cused the Cen­tre of “pro­mot­ing the in­ter­ests of Prime Min­is­ter’s crony cap­i­tal­ist friends”.

At a press con­fer­ence, Congress com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief Ran­deep Sur­je­w­ala said the Modi gov­ern­ment had vi­o­lated the de­fence pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dure (DPP) and by­passed the in­ter­ests of Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Ltd. (HAL).

“On April 10, 2015, Prime Min­is­ter Modi vis­its France and an­nounces the deal for pur­chase of 36 Rafale fighter aicraft in fly­away con­di­tion. This was done uni­lat­er­ally with­out fol­low­ing the DPP, with­out any in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment and in the ab­sence of De­fence Min­is­ter. How­ever, Mr. Anil Am­bani, owner of Re­liance De­fence Ltd. was present in France dur­ing the PM’s visit,” Mr. Sur­je­w­ala said.

Re­liance De­fence Lim­ited called the Congress al­le­ga­tions “base­less” and “un­founded” and asked the party to gets its facts right. “Shri Anil Am­bani is a mem­ber of Indo-French CEO Forum. In the said meet­ing, more than 20 CEOs were present,” said a state­ment from Re­liance De­fence Ltd.

The Congress leader said that while the UPA gov­ern­ment had signed the Rafale deal as a joint ven­ture be­tween its French maker, Das­sault Avi­a­tion, and In­dia’s HAL, the Modi gov­ern­ment can­celled the en­tire process on July 30, 2015.

Joint ven­ture

The Congress said that while In­dia signed the $8.7 bil­lion deal [for pur­chase of 36 Rafale jets] on Septem­ber 23 last year, just 10 days later, on Oc­to­ber 3, 2016, RDL en­tered into a JV with the French fighter plane maker.

“It is time for the PM to an­swer why the planes were bought at such an in­flated costs?Is it not true that as per UPA-ne­go­ti­ated price, the cost of one plane was ₹5,26.1 crore whereas un­der the NDA, the plane is cost­ing ₹1,570 crore?” Mr. Sur­je­w­ala asked.

AFP ■

A file photo of a Rafale fighter jet in Paris.

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