Rafale deal – Political mud-sling must stop
By Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
With the Supreme Court dismissing pleas challenging the Rafale fighter jet deal, the government dismissed all allegation of corruption as “fiction writing”. The apex court has rightly said that the government broadly followed all necessary processes while signing the deal with France.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also rightly said that “The Rafale deal has protected both security and commercial interest of India.” Allegations on Rafale are fiction writing that was compromising national security. Vindicating the government stand and taking the sting out of the Opposition Congress attack over alleged irregularities in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France, the Supreme Court Friday dismissed all four petitions.
In April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Paris. After meeting Francois Hollande, who was then President of France, he announced that India would buy 36 Rafales, not 126.
It was also learnt that Dassault was going to partner with Reliance Defence Fixed Wing Aircraft, a company owned by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group. That company had been set up in March 2015, less than 12 days before Modi’s visit to Paris.
The deal to buy 36 Rafales was finally signed in 2016. Though the initial plan was to buy 126 jets, India scaled it down to 36, that too in ready condition. India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force’s equipment.
The estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore. Both India and France witnessed national elections and a change in government while the negotiations were under way. Pricing was another factor. Even during the signing of the purchase agreement, both the sides couldn’t reach a conclusion on the financial aspects. According to sources, the price of an aircraft it about Rs.740 crores and India wants them for at least 20 per cent lesser cost.
Political mud-sling must be stopped otherwise; the whole country is becoming a corrupt country because of the present Indian Government. Government must make things transparent and clarify the confusion growing rapidly in the nation and world.
The Rafale deal has been the subject of heated claims and counter-claims on two broad issues — that the contract to purchase 36 French multi-role fighter aircraft was grossly overvalued and that it was tainted by crony capitalism. When there is no money trail as admitted then where is corruption and how has Modi benefitted personally as alleged by RaGa.
It is clearly that the Indian politicians don’t articulate the relevant points effectively and jump to conclusions without any substance. The process of buying, followed by licensed technology transfers has happened with multiple Soviet and Russian aircraft such as the MiG and Sukhoi range, and also with many British and French jets, from the Folland Gnat to the Anglo-French Jaguar, and the French Mirage 2000.
India has a defence offset policy. In plain language, this means that when the government buys arms from abroad, it sets a condition that the arms seller should purchase some components or avail of some services in India, spending rupees to generate profits and employment to offset the deal. The offset valuation for the Rafale deal is set at 50%.
Why don’t we think India should not only become self sufficient in manufacturing advanced aircrafts missiles and submarines but should also be able to export them to other countries and earn foreign exchange. For this we need top class technicians designers and engineers from all over the world.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])