The central government is planning a counter strategy against the Congress party's 'Rafale deal' charges against the Narendra Modi government for favouring Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as part of the offset deal. While the government has denied any involvement in choosing the company, it is now trying to dig holes in projects allotted to the Anil Ambani's group firms under the previous UPA government's tenure. According to an estimate, Anil Ambani's company had been awarded projects worth over Rs 1-lakh crore since 2007, the Economic Times reported.
The newspaper quoted sources as saying the government has asked key ministries, including power, telecom, road transport and highways, to share details regarding projects carried out by the billionaire businessman's companies under the Congress-led UPA government. "All these projects were with government agencies. We are looking at the processing time that went into these projects, and whether due processes were followed," the official told the newspaper.
The government's major focus is on Reliance Group's telecom arm, RCom, Reliance Power, Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance MediaWorks, and Reliance Natural Resources. During the UPA, the Reliance Group won projects worth over Rs 77,000 crore in the power sector alone. It also got regulatory approvals for its projects for RCom and Reliance Infrastructure in a record time, which not only helped it get big contracts but also made Reliance Infra the largest private developer in just four-five years. The government will also be digging at how, without having the necessary experience to carry out many projects, none of the Reliance Group companies reported a dip in market capitalisation during the last five years of the UPA.
The Congress has also been accusing massive irregularities in the Rafale deal, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government for the procurement of 126 Rafale jets. The deal negotiated by the UPA could not be inked. The Congress has also been pressing for price details of the deal, but the NDA government has refused to divulge them citing confidentiality provisions of a 2008 Indo-France pact.
On Thursday, French news website Mediapart claimed access to an "internal Dassault document" dated May 11, 2017, where a "senior member" of the aviation group explained to staff representatives that the joint venture with its Indian partner, Anil Ambani's defence firm, was a "counterpart", "imperative and mandatory" to win the contract for 36 fighter jets. Dassault Aviation, however, said it has freely chosen to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group as part of offsets in India. Dassault Aviation has committed to offsets in India worth 50 per cent of the value of the purchase.
Edited by Manoj Sharma