Over the past several months, the country's politics has been rocked over the Rafale deal. The Congress President, Rahul Gandhi, has termed it a huge scam of the Modi government. The facts that have come out clearly reveal that there have been deliberate irregularities at many levels in the deal. New facts about the Rafale deal are still being revealed.
The latest facts have been revealed by defence expert Ajay Shukla in his column for Business Standard.
He claims that the cost of the deal that the Modi government has negotiated for 36 fighter aircraft in 2016, with French company Dassault, is 40% more than the proposal for 126 aircraft by Dassault in 2012. Referring to the two officials of the Ministry of Defense directly involved in the contract negotiations with Dassault from 2012 onwards, he says that Dassault’s winning bid amounted to Euro 19.5 billion for 126 Rafale fighters, which was considered the lowest and, on this basis, the company had won the bid.
According to this estimate, the total cost of 126 planes would have been ₹1.17 billion and the one aircraft would have cost about one thousand crore rupees. Along with the planes, this cost included many other types of expenses such as technology transfer, India-specific needs, arms, aircraft parts and maintenance.
Under this proposal, 18 aircraft would have been manufactured in France, and India would have procured the fully-made aircraft. 108 aircrafts were to be manufactured in India by HAL and the raw material for it was to be supplied by the French company Dassault. In the total cost, the cost of HAL's labour was also included.
In comparison, under the 7.8 billion euro deal finalised by the NDA government in September 2016 for 36 Rafale aircrafts, each aircraft will cost 217 million euros. This is 40% more than the earlier deal.
Giving all this information, Ajay Shukla wondered how then the defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, officials of the Indian Navy and the entire NDA government could claim that the deal for 36 Rafale aircrafts in 2016 would cost 20 % less than the earlier deal for 126 aircrafts.
It is now being argued that the aircrafts which was being bought during the UPA regime did not have the specifications or the features of the aircrafts which are being bought under the deal struck by the Modi government. But the defense expert Ajay Shukla clearly states in his column that the features of the aircraft being bought under the previous deal are the same as the aircraft being bought under the new deal.
Dassault’s proposal of 19.5 billion euros was valid even at the time, when on April 10, 2015, PM Modi, along with then French President Francois Hollande, announced in Paris that a government-to-government deal has been signed between India and France for 36 flyaway Rafale fighter jets.
During the show at Aero India in Bangalore in February 2015, Dassault Chief Eric Trappier had said that the price of Rafale jets had remained the same since the first day. And there is no change in the prices.
With this new revelation, many questions arise once again on the Rafael Deal executed by the Modi government. Why was this deal done at 40% higher price? And to benefit whom? And why the government is coming up with wrong facts? What is the government trying to hide?