Jammu: All India Congress Committee (AICC) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa Sunday called Rafale deal the biggest scam in the country’s defence sector post-independence.
Alleging that BJP is directly benefiting from the scam, Bajwa demanded cancellation of the deal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should end their silence and come out with the facts, the former Punjab Congress chief told reporters here.
The cost per aircraft as per the international bid opened on December 12, 2012 was Rs 526.10 crore, said Bajwa, adding that eighteen aircrafts were to come from France in ‘fly away’ condition and 108 aircrafts were to be made in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited with transfer of technology. At this rate, 36 aircrafts should cost Rs 18,940 crore.
On April 10, 2015, Modi announced emergency off-the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts in Paris, France for Euro 7.5 billion (Rs 1670.70 crore per aircraft).
Will Modi explain why an extra amount of Rs 41,205 crore is being paid, Bajwa asked.
While reports of a “secrecy clause” have surfaced, Bajwa claimed there is no such non-disclosure of commercial purchase price clause in the agreement between India and France.
Further, Bajwa asked why the number of fighter aircrafts to be purchased were reduced from 126 to 36.
The 36 aircrafts will reach India between 2019 and 2022. With looming threats from China and Pakistan, does it not compromise national security and defeat the purpose of emergency purchase? he said.
He said no mandatory approval of the cabinet committee on security was taken before purchase of the aircrafts, besides the mandatory defence procurement procedure was also not followed.
Why did the Modi government allow the offset contract to be given to a company that has zero experience in manufacturing fighter aircrafts? Bajwa questioned.
Reliance Defence Limited was incorporated on March 28, 2015, just 12 days before the announcement of purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts. Reliance Defence got the contract even though it does not have the experience to make a needle, he said.
He alleged that the government had deliberately ignored the 20 per cent price reduction offer made by Eurofighter Typhoon and refused fresh bidding for lowest price.
In the original tender invited by the UPA-Congress, two fighter aircrafts were found equal on all technical fronts – Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon, said the Congress leader, adding that Eurofighter Typhoon wrote a letter on July 4, 2014 to the then defence minister, offering a 20 per cent price reduction.
Bajwa said the Congress has started a campaign to inform the people about the scam.
He said Congress president Rahul Gandhi had already raised the issue in the Parliament and the Congress was demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the matter.
Asked whether the Congress is in favour of cancellation of the deal, Bajwa said the agreement has to be cancelled as it is a matter of security.
In response to a poser on the Bofors guns scam, Bajwa said Congress formed a JPC to investigate the matter. The Bofors guns showed their utility when it helped pound the enemy during Kargil war, he added.