The Indian Air Force on Thursday dismissed Rahul Gandhi's claims of a "scam" in the Rafale deal and called it a "much better deal" than the one negotiated by the Congress party. The Air Force said the Modi government's deal is 40 per cent cheaper than the Congress deal, which was being negotiated since 2008 and could not be completed.
In an exclusive interaction with India Today, Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar dismissed all accusations that Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence was favoured as part of the offset agreement and awarded Rs 30, 000-crore contract by the Modi government. The Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal added that as compared to the prices of 2008, the price received by the Modi government was "much better" than what the Congress was negotiating for. The deal negotiated by the UPA could not be inked.
The Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal also said that Rafale is the best fighter jet available in the market today and will help in establishing the supremacy of the IAF over the skies of the subcontinent.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly accused the Modi government of favouring a businessman (Anil Ambani) with "zero" experience in the defence sector. The party has been accusing massive irregularities in the Rafale deal, alleging 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.
Gandhi, who on August 29 called the Rafale deal a "globalised corruption", challenged the Modi government to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to scrutinise it. He accused the PM of lying while reading excerpts from the joint statement by PM Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, which had been issued in Paris in April 2016. "The two leaders agreed that the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force," Gandhi said, adding that the PM is "saying something else" now. "It is clearly written here that the configuration is going to be the same. So, the man is lying," Gandhi said.
The Congress has also been pressing for the price details of the deal, but the NDA government has refused to divulge them citing confidentiality provisions of a 2008 Indo-France pact. Recently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the Rafale deal negotiated by the Modi government is 9 per cent cheaper than what the Congress had negotiated. "What was negotiated from 2015 to 2016 and finally executed in 2016, with the escalations and the currency variations, the basic aircraft price turns out to be 9 per cent cheaper. Is the Congress party aware of this?" the Finance Minister further asked.
(Edited by Manoj Sharma)