Cong raises ques­tions over Rafale deal, BJP hits back

The Hitavada - - NATION -

RAIS­ING ques­tions over the Rafale fighter air­craft deal, the Congress on Tues­day ac­cused the Gov­ern­ment of hav­ing com­pro­mised na­tional in­ter­est and se­cu­rity while pro­mot­ing “crony cap­i­tal­ism” and caus­ing a loss to the public ex­che­quer.The BJP rub­bished the al­le­ga­tion, claim­ing it was in­tended to “di­vert at­ten­tion” as the party big­wigs faced the prospect of be­ing ques­tioned in the Agus­taWest­land VVIP chop­per scan­dal. The Congress’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment head Ran­deep Sur­je­w­ala al­leged the Gov­ern­ment ne­glected the in­ter­ests of public sec­tor Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL) as Das­sault Avi­a­tion, the French man­u­fac­turer of Rafale air­craft re­fused to trans­fer tech­nol­ogy to it and in­stead en­tered into an agree­ment with Reliance De­fence.

He also al­leged that the air­craft was be­ing pur­chased at much higher rates than what was de­cided after the com­ple­tion of the ten­der process un­der the pre­vi­ous UPA Gov­ern­ment.

The BJP hit right back, with its spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao claim­ing that the Congress party was en­gag­ing in a “stunt” by rais­ing the Rafale is­sue as it was scared at the prospect of its top lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing the Gand­his, be­ing ques­tioned in the VVIP chop­per scam.

He said after the ar­rest of mid­dle­man Carlos Gerosa in Italy last month and his likely ex­tra­di­tion to In­dia soon, “the Congress has made base­less al­le­ga­tions over Rafale deal to di­vert public at­ten­tion and to cry po­lit­i­cal vendetta”.

“None of these stunts will work and the Congress must be ready to an­swer who took bribes in the Agus­taWest­land VVIP chop­per deal as the money trail is go­ing to be­come known after the ex­tra­di­tion of Carlos Gerosa,” he told PTI.

Sur­je­w­ala said the UPA Gov­ern­ment floated a ten­der on Au­gust 20, 2007 for pur­chase of 126 medium multi-role com­bat air­craft (MMRCA) for the Air Force and, post ne­go­ti­a­tions, two of them--Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon re­mained in the reck­on­ing. On De­cem­ber 12, 2012, Rafale was de­clared L1 ven­dor, the bid­der whose quo­ta­tion is the low­est, with base price of USD 10.20 bil­lion (Rs 54,000 crore ac­cord­ing to the con­ver­sion rate preva­lent then).

It was de­cided that of the 126 air­craft, 18 would come in fly away con­di­tion and the re­main­ing 108 will be man­u­fac­tured in In­dia by HAL with trans­fer of techonol­ogy, he said.

After the Modi Gov­ern­ment was formed in May 2014, Sur­je­w­ala said, the ear­lier Re­quest for Pro­posal (RFP) for pur­chase of 126 air­craft was can­celled on July 30, 2015.

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