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Published On: Mon, Feb 26th, 2018

Parrikar was buying fish when PM Modi changed Rafale contract: Rahul Gandhi

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RahulGandhi-kQKI--621x414@LiveMintSAUNDATI/ NEW DELHI : In yet another scathing attack on the BJP-led NDA government, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that former defence minister Manohar Parrikar was unaware about Prime Minister Narendra Modi changing the ‘Rafale’ contract.
The Congress chief claimed that Parrikar was ‘buying fish’ in Goa at that time.The Gandhi scion made these remarks while addressing a public rally in Saundatti ahead of state assembly elections.

“The former defence minister was in Goa buying fish from a shop … he did not even know that Modi ji had changed the contract of the Rafale deal,” he said. Rahul had earlier slammed Defence Minister Nirmala Sithraman for changing her stance on revealing the cost of Rafale fighter jets.
In a snide tweet, Gandhi wrote, “Tweet- Q. Why did the Raksha Mantri change her stance from : I will reveal the price of the RAFALE planes in Nov 2017 to the price is a state secret in Feb 2018
A. Corruption B. To protect Modiji C. To protect Modiji’s friend D. All of above.”
The Congress president has also addressed the issue while interacting with reporters and informed that he had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi three questions in connection with the Rafale deal during the parliamentary session.

“I asked the Prime Minister three questions – cost of jets, if they asked Cabinet Committee on Security about it and why was the contract snatched from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and given to a businessman? But got no answers,” he told reporters.

Gandhi further said that the Prime Minister gave a long speech in the Rajya Sabha, “but wasn’t interested in answering fundamental questions.” Intensifying his attack on the NDA government, Rahul had earlier said that the Rafale fighter jet deal was the “biggest issue” of corruption in the country now.
Congress president also recently listed out three Parliamentary replies filed by the former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on the details of pricing of defence deals.

Asserting that the replies show that there was ‘full transparency’ in defence deals during the UPA regime, Rahul asked the NDA government to reveal the real cost of the deal.  Rahul’s replies came after FM Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of “seriously compromising” country’s security by seeking details of the Rafale deal from the Centre.
It was in September 2016 that the deal for 36 aircraft for ₹58,000 crore was finalised with the signing of the Inter- Governmental Agreement (IGA) by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves le Drian in New Delhi.

It had been announced a year earlier by PM Modi in Paris. Basically, India would pay a whopping ₹1,611 crore for each of the planes, the same planes for which the UPA government was paying ₹526 crore per unit. The UPA government had floated a tender to purchase 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft and the Rafale was chosen over five other competitors.
The irony is that while inflation plus weapons package cannot justify this huge difference in per aircraft cost, the UPA’s price included transfer of technology (ToT), under which 108 aircraft would have been built by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Under this current deal, there is no ToT as all 36 planes have been ordered on a fly-away basis. So, several questions arise.

Why were orders for seven squadrons cut down to two? Why is there such a massive price escalation in spite of no transfer of technology? Where is this money going? Why is Dassault partnering with Reliance Aerospace in India and, in the absence of ToT, what are the offset obligations of Dassault? And there are many more such questions. Till date, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government has not answered any of them.
Incumbent Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s written reply to Parliament on February 5 this year that the government is not aware of the Indian partner of Dassault Aviation has taken what was murky into the realm of the unreal.
When the joint venture company of Dassault and the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Aerospace laid down the foundation stone of its facility in Nagpur in October, 2017, BJP leaders like Maharashtra Chief Minister
Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari were present. The JV was formed 13 months before the deal was announced and it’s in the public domain. So why this denial?

“I charge the Congress of seriously compromising India’s security… Mr Modi has run a clean government for last 4 years, so let us, manufacturer, a crisis, let us manufacture an issue. And the manufactured issue is, please tell me the details of the Rafale deal,” the Finance Minister had said in Lok Sabha after Congress demanded the Centre to make public the details of the government-
(With Agency Inputs ).

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