Cong claims scam in Rafale deal, says PM help­ing Re­liance De­fence

North Guj cov­ered, Rahul to re­turn for Ahmed­abad tour Hardik good for noth­ing: Sar­dar’s great-grand­nephew

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - NEWS NET­WORK

TIMES New Delhi: Congress ac­cused the Modi gov­ern­ment of buy­ing 36 Rafale air­craft at “highly in­flated price” from what was ne­go­ti­ated by the UPA, also al­leg­ing that it was ben­e­fit­ing “crony cap­i­tal­ist friends” at the cost of a re­puted pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ing, Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL).

Claim­ing that a “huge scam” was brew­ing in the bigticket de­fence pur­chase be­ing fi­nalised by the Cen­tre, AICC spokesman Ran­deep Sur­je­w­ala said Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi had by­passed the manda­tory ‘de­fence pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dure’ for the pur­chase and had also for­gone the clause for trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy for the ac­qui­si­tion.

“Why did the PM pro­mote the in­ter­ests of one in­dus­trial group, Re­liance De­fence Lim­ited, which has led to the com­pany ty­ing up and en­ter­ing into a joint ven­ture with Das­sault Avi­a­tion worth Rs 30,000 crore? Why was this done by the PM, by­pass­ing the in­ter­ests of a re­puted PSU like HAL?” Sur­je­w­ala asked at a press con­fer­ence, nam­ing Congress

vice-pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi, who had con­cluded his north Gujarat tour on Mon­day, will again ad­dress pub­lic meet­ings and ral­lies in the state. This time, Rahul is likely to hold pub­lic meet­ings in the east­ern part of Ahmed­abad which had wit­nessed vi­o­lence dur­ing the Pati­dar quota stir in Au­gust 2015. Sources said Rahul will visit the city be­tween Novem­ber 16 and 19 when he is likely to ad­dress pub­lic ral­lies and hold dis­cus­sions with party work­ers. Dur­ing an in­for­mal in­ter­ac­tion with jour­nal­ists. in­dus­tri­al­ist Anil Am­bani.

He said the joint ven­ture for “the big­gest ever In­dian de­fence deal be­tween Das­sault Avi­a­tion and Re­liance De­fence Ltd” had not gone through the pro­ce­dure of ap­proval by the Union cab­i­net, Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity and For­eign In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Board. Se­nior

Gujarat Congress leader Shak­tis­inh Go­hil’s re­mark that Pati­dar Ana­mat An­dolan Samiti (PAAS) chief Hardik Pa­tel has “DNA of Sar­dar Pa­tel” has not gone down well with the de­scen­dants of In­dia’s first deputy prime min­is­ter. A mem­ber of Sar­dar’s fam­ily termed the re­mark “loose” and said the PAAS leader was “good for noth­ing”.

“My great grand­fa­ther had done a lot of good work for the coun­try, but no Congress leader ever ap­pre­ci­ated that,” said Samir Pa­tel, Sar­dar’s great-grand­nephew.

Sur­je­w­ala said the cost fi­nalised for the pur­chase of 36 Rafale air­craft was Rs 60,000 crore. He claimed the UPA gov­ern­ment had ne­go­ti­ated a $10.2 bil­lion deal for ac­quir­ing 126 Rafale jets while the NDA gov­ern­ment rene­go­ti­ated the deal to com­mit $8.7 bil­lion for just 36 fighters with­out the pro­vi­sion for trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy.

“Is it not then cor­rect that per air­craft pric­ing of Rafale as per UPA ne­go­ti­a­tion comes to Rs 526 crore as against Modi gov­ern­ment’s per air­craft ne­go­ti­ated price of Rs 1,570 crore as per cur­rent ex­change rate? Who is re­spon­si­ble for the loss to ex­che­quer?” he asked.

Mean­while, Re­liance De­fence Ltd de­nied the charge that the PM was pro­mot­ing the com­pany. “The JV be­tween Re­liance Aerostruc­ture Ltd and Das­sault Avi­a­tion is a bi­lat­eral agree­ment be­tween two pri­vate com­pa­nies. Das­sault Avi­a­tion se­lected Re­liance Aerostruc­ture Ltd as its JV part­ner. The In­dian gov­ern­ment has no role to play in this,” a com­pany state­ment said.

Call­ing the charges made by the Congress as false, Re­liance said, “Gov­ern­ment pol­icy is­sued on June 24, 2016 al­lows for 49% FDI in the de­fence sec­tor un­der the au­to­matic route, with­out any prior ap­proval. No ap­provals from the Union cab­i­net or CCS are re­quired for for­ma­tion of the afore­said JV com­pany un­der the au­to­matic route.” More

than a year af­ter the Ut­tarak­hand as­sem­bly speaker dis­qual­i­fied nine rebel Congress MLAs to help the then Har­ish Rawat gov­ern­ment win a trust vote, the Supreme Court on Tues­day dis­missed their ap­peals chal­leng­ing the HC judg­ment which had up­held the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Athree-judge bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra dis­missed the ap­peals and said these had be­come “aca­demic” since a new gov­ern­ment had as­sumed of­fice in the state af­ter as­sem­bly elec­tions.

How­ever, at the re­quest of ad­di­tional so­lic­i­tor gen­eral Manin­der Singh, the bench kept alive the Cen­tre’s pe­ti­tion which chal­lenged the HC’s de­ci­sion to quash Pres­i­dent’s rule.

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