Sunday, 17 June, 2018

Government says Rafale cost secret, but had disclosed it in 2016

Rahul Gandhi slams govt secrecy over Rafale deal Rahul Gandhi slams govt secrecy over Rafale deal Rahul Gandhi
Melinda Barton | 09 February, 2018, 09:21

The government on Wednesday said the Opposition's demand that details and the contract value of the Rafale aircraft deal with France be disclosed was "unrealistic". "Who is responsible for the loss to the exchequer?", he asked, alleging the government was "playing with the security of the nation".

The MoD statement referred to the "Agreement between The Government of the Republic of India and The Government of the French Republic concerning the Protection of Classified Information and Material in the field of Defence", signed in New Delhi on January 25, 2008.

"It is also stressed once again that the procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft through an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France to meet the urgent need of the IAF is strictly in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure in all aspects.", it said.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in the Parliament, denied to reveal the price at which the fighter jets were bought, media report said.

Reacting to Sitharaman's statement, Rahul told media the unwillingness to reveal the details of the deal implies that it is a scam. This is not a state secret. "The whole country knows it".

Though each jet may come for Rs 670 crore, the per unit cost zooms to nearly Rs 1,640 crore if the overall deal is taken into account, which includes a deadly weapons package, all spares and costs for 75% fleet availability and performance-based logistics support for five years, among other things, as reported by TOI earlier.

"The statement of the defence ministry rebutted Congress chief's claim that Modi government opted for Rafale fighters even when Eurofighter Typhoon had offered to slash its price by 20%".

Raju felt that there are little chances that the deal was struck without the knowledge of the cabinet committee. But on April 10, 2015, when Modiji unilaterally announced the deal, none of these steps had been followed. In 2012, the then Defence Minister exercised an unprecedented personal veto on the laid down institutional process then underway for procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

But junior minister for defence Subhash Bhamre, in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on November 18, 2016, had stated, "IGA with the Government of France has been signed on September 23, 2016, for purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft along with requisite equipment, services and weapons".

"Why is it that despite the 'emergency purchase" and the lapse of 35 months, not a single aircraft has been delivered? Is it not correct that the Indian Air Force will not have delivery of the aircraft till end of 2019 as stated in the public domain?