Moving court on Rafale is also an option: Sachin Pilot

Moving court on Rafale is also an option: Sachin Pilot

Sachin Pilot.

Ratcheting up pressure on the BJP government to disclose the price of Rafale fighter aircraft, the Congress on Monday said that it is open for all option including knocking at Judiciary's doors, to ensure that “truth behind the deal” comes out in the public domain.

However, the principal Opposition party said that it expected the Narendra Modi dispensation to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to look into the deal between India and France for buying of 36 Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.

The Congress claims that the price of each aircraft, which was agreed at Rs 532 crores during the UPA government was increased to Rs 1,670 core only to benefit Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence, which has not even “built a bicycle”.

“All options are open for us. We are open to any (solution or method) to bring out the truth in the Rafale deal to the public. Our president Rahul Gandhi has been seeking a JPC probe into the Rafale deal,” Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot told reporters in Chennai.

Pilot, who was in the city to address a press conference on Rafale deal as part of the Congress' campaign against the Modi government, was responding to a question on whether the party was open towards moving the judiciary on this issue.

The former Union minister said that Modi has not bothered to tell people, why the number of aircraft were reduced from 126 to 36.

“Our prime minister said the IAF is in dire need of the fighter jets and hence the number was reduced to 36. Our question is who did he consult? Did the Cabinet Committee on Security? Why should the tax payers pay Rs 1,138 crore more for each aircraft that the UPA fixed at Rs 532 crores? Why does the government want to spend Rs 40,000 crore of the tax payers money for just 36 aircraft?” he asked.

“If there was an urgency, why not even a single aircraft has arrived in India till today? Why was the contract given to Reliance Defence which was incorporated as a firm only 12 days back. Why wasn't HAL that has a 70-year expertise in the field awarded the contract?” Pilot asked.

Claiming that mandatory requirement of ‘Defence Procurement Procedure’ for price discovery through the instrumentalities of ‘Contract Negotiation Committee’ (CNC) and ‘Price Negotiation Committee’ (PNC) were not followed, Pilot accused the prime minister of “hiding behind” the confidentiality clause.

The Rajasthan Congress chief said the Opposition parties expect the government to make public the price paid for each aircraft and not the technology and specifics of the fighter jet.

“When the French President himself says the price can be disclosed to the Indian Parliament, why is the government not willing to make it public? We agree that the technology cannot be made public due to national security, but what stops the government from making the price known to its people?” he asked.

Seeking to know why the government allowed business tycoon Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi to escape, Pilot said that the BJP dispensation has not fulfilled any of the promises made during the 2014 elections.

“Mask of the BJP has come off and the Narendra Modi government is knee deep in corruption,” Pilot said.

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