Even as the much-anticipated CAG report on Rafale jet deal was tabled in the Rajya Sabha today, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi renewed his attack against the Narendra Modi government in the ongoing controversy. Quoting a latest media report, Gandhi said that, “The PM defended his personal RAFALE bypass deal on 2 counts : 1. Better Price 2. Faster Delivery Both have been demolished.” ‘The Hindu’ in its today’s report had said that three members of the Indian Negotiating Team were of view that the terms negotiated by the Modi government were not ‘better’ than the ones undertaken by the UPA government. The report also stated that these experts in the seven-member INT also observed that the delivery of the 18 out of total 36 Rafale fighter jets was slower than the last agreement.
According to ‘The Hindu’, the three domain experts on the INT were MP Singh, Adviser (Cost), a Joint Secretary-level officer from the Indian Cost Accounts Service; AR Sule, Financial Manager (Air); and Rajeev Verma, Joint Secretary & Acquisitions Manager (Air). The news report comes on a day when the CAG report said that the Rafale fighter jets bought by the Modi government are 2.86% cheaper than the UPA regime. The Congress chief is scheduled to address media in New Delhi at 3:30 pm. Yesterday also, he held a press conference where he alleged that the Prime Minister is acting like a middleman for business tycoon Anil Ambani.
Last week, ‘The Hindu’ had published a report the ‘note of dissent’ that was recorded on November 24, 2015 on a note prepared by SK Sharma, Deputy Secretary (Air-II), and endorsed by the Joint Secretary & Acquisition Manager (Air) and the Director General (Acquisition) in the Ministry. However, the then defence secretary G Mohan Kumar said that, “Defence Ministry’s dissent note had nothing to do with Rafale pricing.” Kumar was quoted as saying by the ANI that, “It (MoD dissent note on Rafale negotiations) had nothing to do with price. It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions.”
Last month, ‘The Hindu’ had reported that how the Narendra Modi government's 2015 decision exponentially increased the price of each fighter jet. The report said that the deal bypassed the procedures despite some serious objections raised by top defence brass. The January 18 report said that the 2015 decision caused the price of Rafale jets to go up by 41%. According to the report, Manmohan Singh-led UPA government had decided to buy 126 Rafale aircraft in 2007. The 2007 bid meant India was buying 18 fighter jets in ‘fly-away’ condition and 108 were to be made in India.