Rafale deal: Congress alleges ‘huge scam’; Reliance denies it

Updated - November 15, 2017 07:48 am IST

Published - November 14, 2017 05:21 pm IST - New Delhi

Randeep Singh Surjewala addresses a press conference at AICC headquarters in Delhi.

Randeep Singh Surjewala addresses a press conference at AICC headquarters in Delhi.

The Congress on Tuesday alleged that a "huge scam is brewing" in the Rafale deal and accused the Modi government of "promoting the interests of Prime Minister's crony capitalist friends”.

Addressing a press conference, Congress communication chief Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government violated the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and bypassed the interests of PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

"On April 10, Prime Minister Modi visits France and announces the deal for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in flyaway condition. This was done unilaterally without following the DPP, without any inter-governmental agreement and in the absence of India's Defence Minister. However, Mr Anil Ambani, owner of Reliance Defence Limited, was present in France during the Prime Minister's visit," alleged Mr Surjewala.

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited described the allegations as “baseless” and “unfounded” and asserted that Mr. Ambani was part of the PM’s delegation as a member of the Indo-French CEO Forum. “Shri Anil Ambani is a member of Indo- French CEO Forum. In the said meeting, more than 20 CEOs were present,” said a statement from the Reliance Defence Limited.

The Congress leader claimed that while the UPA government had signed the Rafale deal as a joint venture between its French maker, Dassault Aviation, and India's HAL, the Modi government cancelled the entire process on 30 July, 2015. 

This in turn, alleged the Congress party, helped Reliance Defence Limited as they entered into a joint venture with Dassault. 

Giving out a chronological sequence of the deal, the Congress party said while India signed the $8.7 billion deal on September 23 last year, just 10 days later, on October 3, 2016, Reliance Defence Limited entered into a joint venture with the French fighter plane maker.

"It is time for the PM to answer why the planes were bought at such an inflated costs? Is it not true that as per UPA negotiated price, the cost of one plane was Rs 526.1 crores whereas under NDA, the plane is costing Rs 1570 crores? Why was transfer of technology for HAL not insisted? And finally, has the joint venture between Dassault and Reliance Defence been cleared by the Union Cabinet?" asked the Congress leader.

Stating the joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault was between two private entities and the government didn’t have a role, Reliance Defence said, “Government policy issued on 24 June 2016 allows for 49% FDI in the Defence Sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval. No approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of the aforesaid Joint Venture company under the automatic route.”

When the Congress leader was asked why the party was raising the issue now, especially since all the facts about the Rafale deal were in public domain, Mr. Surjewala said, "No, we had raised it then as well. Former Defence Minister A.K Antony, Manish Tewari and myself had raised it outside as well in Parliament. We were told that nothing has been signed. The deal has been signed last September and since then we have trying to gather information."



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