Controversy Over Rafale Deal: The Government Has To Respond

The controversy of Rafale Deal is not likely to die down in the near future, because Congress and other Modi baiters are keeping this issue alive and they are not leaving any opportunity to attack Modi government over the spike of the purchase price of Rafale fighter planes to be imported from France.

It is apt to mention that Rafale Deal was signed in the UPA’s tenure itself after a prolonged negotiation and global tender. Under the original deal India was to have 126 Rafale fighter planes at the cost of Rs 42,000 crores. 8 fighter planes were to be provided by the Rafale company in a fly-away condition and the rest 118 fighter planes were to be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), an Indian defence company producing planes for the last 60 years. In the original deal there was agreement over the technology transfer of the Rafale planes to India.

But after the formation of Modi government a new Deal was signed between Indian government and Rafale under which India was to have only 36 Rafale fighter planes in its arsenal in place of 136 and all of the 36 planes have to be procured in fly-away condition produced in France. The 36 planes would cost Rs 60,000 crore. It means India will have to pay Rs 1600 crore per plane, while in the original Deal signed during UPA rule, the cost of per plane was estimated to be Rs 715 crore. Obviously, now the cost of the fighter planes has more than doubled.

And the opposition parties are raising the issue smelling corruption in the deal. They are asking questions about the Deal from the government, but the government is refusing to give the details of the Deal citing a so called agreement signed between India and France in 2009, when UPA was in power and AK Antony was the Defence Minister. According to the government, it is bound to keep the details of the Deal confidential because of the agreement signed during the UPA rule.

On the other hand, the then Defence Minister of India, AK Antony is saying the said agreement only prevents India in divulging the technical specifications of the fighter plane and the technology involved in it and it does not prohibit the government from making the purchase price of the plane public. But government has nothing to say except that the plane being purchased now is superior one from the plane, which was to be purchased earlier.

The second issue of contention is the dumping of HAL and giving offset contract to Anil Ambani owned Reliance Defence Limited, which was registered only 10 days before the announcement of the Deal by Prime Minister Modi. The amount of the offset contract is Rs30,000 crore and Rahul and other Modi baiters are claiming that this amount of Rs30,000 crore is Commission paid by the French company, because Anil Ambani’s company was existing on paper only at the time of signing up the Deal.

The third issue relates to the transfer of technology. Earlier, the French company was prepared to transfer the technology of the Rafale plane to India, but now India will not get the technology. This is the third loss of India. Now, it is up to the government to clarify its position. Its strategy of hiding behind a secrecy clause may not work in view of the persistent campaign of opposition against the government over the Deal.