Sinha, Shourie target PM Modi over Rafale deal

Sinha, Shourie target PM Modi over Rafale deal

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan with former union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha during a press conference, in New Delhi on Aug 8, 2018. (PTI Photo/Atul Yadav)

The Rafale deal to buy 36 fighter aircraft from France is a “textbook case of criminal misconduct” because the Narendra Modi government bought the jets at an inflated price, former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie alleged here on Wednesday.

Sinha, Shourie and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan claimed Modi government paid nearly Rs 1,000 crore more on each of the combat jet than the price negotiated by the previous UPA government.

Addressing a press conference, the trio said the decision to buy two squadrons of Rafale was taken without consulting the Indian Air Force and Defence Ministry, and the move jeopardized national security by reducing the number of requisite aircraft to 36 from the original plan of buying 126 aircraft to replace the ageing MiG-21 fleet.

“IAF is very upset about the deal,” said Shourie.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which has had decade-long experience in manufacturing aircraft has been kicked out of the project. A private party that had absolutely no experience in manufacturing aerospace and defence equipment was handed an enormous financial benefit, they said, referring to Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence.

The French manufacturer Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence claim to be one of the partners to execute the offset projects that come as a part of the Rs 59,000 crore (7.87 billion Euro) deal. Bhusan said out of total offset liability of Rs 30,000 crore, Reliance would get orders worth Rs 21,000 crore – a charge denied by the company.

The fresh criticism comes at a time when principal opposition party Congress targets the Modi government alleging a scam in the Rafale deal.

Shourie said April 10, 2015, India-France Joint Statement stated “the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by the IAF.”

“That clear and emphatic affirmation in the Joint Statement nails the falsehood that has been spread since then, namely the price per aircraft is so much higher because of some novel India specific enhancements in the 36 Rafale now contracted,” he said.

Moreover, these aircraft were to come on “terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway,” according to the Joint Statement implying that the price would be lower than what was negotiated by the UPA. But that was not the case in reality.

“The Comptroller and Auditor General should complete a forensic audit in three months and place the findings before the nation. Bofors was nothing compared to this,” Sinha said.

READ ALSO: No contract received: Reliance

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