By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Opposition Congress Tuesday alleged that a ‘huge Scam’ is brewing in the procurement of fighter aircrafts from the ‘Dassault Aviation’ of France for Indian Air Force that would cost Rs 60,000 crores to the public exchequer. It also alleged that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “blatantly promoting financial interests of his “crony capitalist friends” in the purchase of 36 ‘Rafel Fighter Aircrafts’ by sacrificing the national interests on ‘Transfer of Technology’.
Addressing the media here, Randeep Singh Surjewala, In-charge Communication Department of Congress said one cannot buy a single pin for the three Armed Forces without adhering to the Defence Procurement Procedure but Prime Minister took a unilateral decision on buying the 36 aircrafts of Dassault by-passing the mandatory ‘Defence Procurement Procedure’ and in absence of an inter-governmental agreement with France at that time.
Giving details of the deal, Congress leader said in 2007, UPA-Congress government floated a tender for purchase of 126 ‘Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts’ (MMRCA) for Indian Air Force and post negotiations, two aircrafts remained in reckoning i.e. ‘Rafel’ and ‘Eurofighter Typhoon’.
In 2015 the PM Modi visited France and announced the deal for purchase of 36 Rafel Fighter Aircrafts in flyaway condition and it was done unilaterally without following the Defence Procurement Procedure, without inter-governmental agreement and in the absence of India’s Defence Minister but Anil Ambani, owner of Reliance Defence Limited was present in France with him, he added.
On the question, if this is a scam, Surjewala said let the Prime Minister answer and place these facts on the record.
“We have raised serious issues of impropriety, serious issues of non-transparency, serious issues of violations of defence procurement procedure, serious issues of promotion of interest of a particular industrial group by Prime Minister bypassing the most important Public Sector Undertaking, serious issue of denial of Transfer of Technology, the Crucial Technology in the biggest ever defence deal to the Indian people and all these are questions and all these are doubts that the Prime Minister needs to answer to”.
In response to another question on whether Dassault is still bound to transfer technology, he said “tragically No. That is the saddest part. Dassault is no longer obliged to transfer technology to manufacture this aircraft to either to HAL or to any other entity in India”.
He also alleged that the Modi government is buying 36 Rafel Aircrafts at a highly inflated price compared to the originally negotiated base price by UPA-Congress government.
“Is it not then correct that per aircraft pricing of Rafel as per UPA negotiation comes to US$ 80.95 million (Rs.526.1 crore) as against Modi government’s per aircraft negotiated price of US$ 241.66 million (Rs.1570.8 crore) as per current exchange rate? Who is responsible for the loss to the exchequer?”
Congress asked the PM that why did he promote the interests of one industrial group i.e. 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 Prime Minister bypassing the interests of a reputed public sector undertaking like HAL?
It further asked that why has the joint venture for the biggest-ever Indian defence deal between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence Limited not gone through the proper procedure of approval by the Union Cabinet, Cabinet Committee on Security and Foreign Investment Promotion Board?
When asked that the Congress Party will raise the issue in Parliament, Surjewala said we will definitely raise the issue if at all they (government) call the Parliament Session.