Life in Gurgaon

‘Demolished’: Rahul Gandhi counters PM Modi over Rafale’s ‘better price, faster delivery’

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi has fired a fresh salvo at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Rafale deal. Gandhi on Wednesday contended that PM Modi “defended his personal Rafale bypass deal” with arguments that the new price for the fighter jets is lower than the one proposed during the Congress-led UPA regime and that the delivery will be faster.

Citing a media report, Gandhi said both arguments have been “demolished”. In teaser post on Twitter, he wrote, “The PM defended his personal RAFALE bypass deal on 2 counts: 1. Better Price, 2. Faster Delivery. Both have been demolished by the revelations in the Hindu today.”

A report published by The Hindu, claimed that the Rafale deal negotiated by the Modi government was not on “better terms” than the one being discussed during the UPA rule. The report cites “conclusion” arrived at by three of the seven-member Indian Negotiating Team (INT) that to counter the government’s claim on better pricing and faster delivery of Rafale jets.

The report quoted the three domain experts as stating in their conclusion, “the reasonability of price offered by the French Government is not established. Even the final price offered by the French Government cannot be considered as ‘better terms’ compared to the MMRCA [medium multi-role combat aircraft] offer and therefore not meeting the requirement of the Joint Statement.”

On the front of faster delivery, it said, “the delivery schedule of even the first 18 of the 36 flyaway Rafale aircraft in the new deal was slower than the one offered for the 18 flyaway aircraft in the original procurement process.”

Gandhi has used the report to target the Modi government over Rafale deal, an assessment of which by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) would be tabled in Parliament. The Congress has questioned the CAG report on Rafale deal raising the issue of conflict of interest with CAG Rajiv Mehrishi.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha said, “There is a conflict of interest. The man who was then a negotiator is now preparing the report. The man who was then a negotiator is now preparing the report.”

Mehrishi was the finance secretary when the Rafale deal was being negotiated between India and France.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gandhi had launched a scathing attack on PM Modi alleging that “he acted like a spy” in Rafale deal with the intention to benefit an industrialist, whose defence firm subsequently got an off-set contract from the Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer and supplier of the fighter jets.

India and France signed an inter-governmental agreement in 2016 for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in flyaway condition. During the UPA regime, a deal was under negotiation for the purchase of 126 Rafale jets including 18 in flyaway condition.