Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been raising his slogan “Na Khanuga Na Khane Dunga” had in 2015 during his visit to Paris, struck the multi-billion-dollar Rafale fighter jets deal between India and France in a suspicion manner that raises some inquisitive questions as it benefits Anil Ambani more than the nation.
What prompted Modi to nullify the previous deal negotiated by UPA regime and undertake a fresh procurement deal with Dassault by -passing the mandatory ‘Defence Procurement Procedure’ in the absence of an inter-governmental agreement with France at that time.
Earlier Indian Air Force was to purchase 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) but Modi government dropped the number to 36 in three years and that too at an exorbitant price.
The deal is important to boost up the Indian Airforce as the Rafale is equipped with a wide range of weapons and is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault. Delivery of the Rafale fighter jets is expected to begin in November 2019 and will likely be completed in the middle of 2022.
How prime minister Narendra Modi took a unilateral decision on cancelling and revamping the top class 4+ generation fighter aircraft deal which is closely related to national security and the public exchequer. But the continued silence by the Prime Minister on the controversial deal raises suspicion about the deal.
When the Congress led Opposition alleged that a “huge scam is brewing” in the NDA government’s procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, the BJP led government has tactically shorten the winter session of Parliament to avoid discussions on the mega defence deal.
Both Modi government and Defence Minister are maintaining secrecy in the purchase price as US$ 80.95 million (Rs.526.1 crore) was negotiated during previous UPA government as against to Modi government’s per aircraft negotiated price of US$ 241.66 million (Rs.1570.8 crore) as per current exchange rate.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has raised questions about the deal and made serious allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly tweaking the deal “without consulting anyone, to favour an industrialist.”
The Congress has accused serious allegations on Prime Minister as why Modi promoted the interests of a private corporate entity of Anil Ambani over a public sector undertaking. Anil Ambani had been one of the major “beneficiaries” of the 2G licensing scam, now comes out to be the key beneficiary of the Rafale Deal. It appears that Modi government is there to benefit the Ambanis to a great extent as Modi unilaterally decided to scrap the original contract for 126 aircraft to benefit Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Ltd while the agreement dated 13.03.2014 between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Dassault Aviation to share technology and produce the Rafale aircraft was scrapped. Ambani’s Reliance has emerged as Dassault’s main partner and Dassault and other French parties will invest half of the contract value in the Ambani’s company as envisaged in the new Rafale “Deal”.
Another aspect should also be noted that Reliance Defence Ltd was registered on March 28, 2015 according to the ministry of company affairs.
Congress has asked Prime Minister Why no procedure has been followed? As per the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2013; ‘Contract Negotiations Committee’ i.e. CNC and ‘Price Negoations Committee’ i.e. PNC had to first make price discovery followed by inter-governmental agreement, then the government should announce the purchase but none of these had been followed?
After selling 36 Rafale fighter jets to India, French government is now pushing for a project to manufacture warplanes here in Indian soil to encourage local manufacturing under ‘Make In India’but PM Modi is focusing on “Make with AMbani”. It’s time that Prime Minister Modi should understand that there are many entrepreneurs apart from Ambanis and Adani and outside Gujarat.
By: Arti Bali
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.