Rafale Fighter Jet Deal: Congress to amp up pressure for JPC Probe during Winter Session

Rafale and Rahul Gandhi
Rafale and Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: In the wake of new “revelations” on the Rafale fighter jet deal, the Congress will step up its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the “dubious” deal in the winter session of Parliament.

The winter session is likely to see a high-pitched battle between the government and opposition on the procurement of the fighter planes, where the Congress alleges “corruption“.

According to sources, to mobilise support, the Congress leaders have been asked to reach out to the leaders of like-minded parties which are opposed to the NDA government.

Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal alleged that the BJP is running away from the JPC probe.

“The Rafale scam is not just a so-called Rs 60-80 crore commission payment but is the biggest Defence scam and only an independent investigation will reveal the scam,” party spokesman Pawan Khera said.

As per the Congress, the UPA government had negotiated purchase of one Rafale fighter aircraft, including Transfer of Technology, for Rs 526.10 crore after an international tender. The Modi government bought the same aircraft without any tender for Rs 1,670 crore, and without Transfer of Technology to India. The difference in cost of 36 jets is approximately Rs 41,205 crore, it alleged.

“Will the Modi government answer as to why are we paying Rs 41,205 crore extra for the same 36 aircraft without Transfer of Technology to India? Who made money and how much bribes were paid? How could PM unilaterally buy 36 aircraft off the shelf when there was a live international tender of 126 aircraft ?” the party asked.

Referring to Mediapart’s (a media portal in France) fresh set of stunning revelations, the Congress said it has exposed how middleman Sushen Gupta got hold of confidential documents belonging to the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) in 2015 from India’s Ministry of Defence detailing the stance of the Indian negotiators, during the final lap of negotiation and in particular how they calculated the price of the aircraft. This gave a clear advantage to Dassault Aviation (Rafale).

Notably, India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture.

It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.

The fighter aircraft are equipped with HAMMER missiles. They will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.

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