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Rafale Jet Controversy : Congress Slams Government, Terms Deal As Biggest Example Of ‘Crony Capitalism’

Picture : You Tube
Picture : You Tube

The Congress party has once again hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on the Rafale jet deal. The party has now alleged the Modi government had “compromised national interest” by helping a private entity to the tune of crores in violation of rules. Further going to the extent of calling the multi-crore Rafale jet deal “the biggest example of crony capitalism”

The party’s Communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi must give answers to the nation on the deal and his party wants him to speak on this issue in Parliament during the current monsoon session.

He alleged that the Modi government was “deceiving” the country by not giving answers about award of contract to a private player in this “mother of all defence deals”.

The Congress leader told reporters that shocking revelations have brought out lies of defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman about the award of Rs 30,000 crore ‘defence offset contract’ to Reliance Defence as part of this deal. “The culture of crony capitalism is the DNA of the Modi government. It is truer than ever in case of the Rs 60,145 crore Rafale deal,” he said.

“The art of deceiving India is the Modi government’s mantra in this mother of all defence deals. Intrigue, conspiracy, deception and loss to public exchequer have marred the unilateral purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft by the government,” Surjewala said.

He added, “Rs 1,30,000 crore lies are being peddled by the Modi government. Reliance Defence has claimed to have secured the offset contract from Dassault Aviation (maker of Rafale jets) for Rs 30,000 crore and a consequent ‘lifecycle cost contract’ of Rs 1 lakh crore,” he said.

The government has been rejecting all allegations about the Rafale deal.

The Congress leader said even Dassault Aviation in its annual report for 2016-17 had claimed that offset contract was being executed by Reliance, while the defence minister has claimed that the contract has not been awarded by Dassault Aviation. “The simple question is, who is lying?” he asked.

Citing rules, Surjewala said all offset proposals need to be approved by the defence minister and be part of approval for the main procurement of defence product and the offset contract is required to be countersigned by the acquisition manager of the defence ministry.

He alleged that the defence offset contract went to a private company with zero experience of manufacturing fighter aircraft. Besides, Reliance Defence was formed just 12 days before the announcement of purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft by the prime minister in France on April 10, 2015, and did not have a licence to manufacture fighter jets, he said.

A Reliance firm was given licence to manufacture fighter aircraft by the ministry but it did not own any land or building on the date of the licence on February 22, 2016, Surjewala said, adding that the company was incorporated on April 24, 2015 — 14 days after the announcement of purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft.

This, he said, was done after suddenly denying the biggest-ever defence offset contract to public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which signed Rs 36,000 crore offset contract in shape of a Workshare Agreement’ on March 13, 2014 till PM Modi ‘unilaterally’ announced an off-the-shelf’ purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft.

Surjewala alleged there was “mal-intent” of the prime minister and complete surrender of the defence minister vis-a-vis the interest of the only government company having experience of manufacturing fighter aircraft.

The Congress leader asked whether Sitharaman was not aware that French defence minister met her and told her that she was going to Mehan where BJP’s Maharashtra government gave land to Reliance Defence for a joint venture for offset contract.

“Why are Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Sitharaman lying on the issue? It is time for Prime Minister Modi to answer the nation,” he said.

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