With election season nearing, both the Congress and the BJP are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the political heat is on in the run-up to the elections. The recent controversy that sparked a storm is the Rafale Deal.
WHAT IS THE RAFALE DEAL?
As reported by the The Hindu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 announced that Govt of India would purchase 36 fighter jet crafts in ‘runway condition’ as Indian Air Force had a ‘critical operational requirement’ of this jet. This announcement was made during PM’s trip to France and the President of France at that point in time was Francois Hollande.
India was to purchase 36 Rafale Fighter Jets at the cost of Euro 7.878 Billion (reports Business Line) In fact the deal was initially touted to be ‘750 Million Euros cheaper’ than the earlier Rafale deal. The deal came with a 50% offset clause. The deal said that the delivery of the jets would begin in 36 months (that is by Sept 2019) and would end in 66 months (2022). The report also says that the Jet will be equipped with Meteor and Scalp missiles. The cost of the deal that is 7.878 Billion Euros consisted of the cost of the Jet, missiles, spare parts and maintenance.
WHAT IS THE CONTROVERSY THEN?
In 2012, Congress led UPA govt announced that Rafale jet was chosen as the choice of MMRCA Fighter Jets. India was to procure 126 fighter jets, of which 18 would be delivered in flyway conditions and 108 would be ‘assembled’ in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Now the Congress party has alleged that the 2016 deal by the PM Modi Govt, which came into picture after scrapping the Congress deal, is not just a bad idea but also accused the ruling party of corruption. Congress has repeatedly maintained that cost per unit of the jet under UPA deal was 526 crore versus the 1611 crore cost per unit of the jet under the NDA deal. Congress has also alleged that NDA’s deal has hurt Indian Defence Sector as the country lost the opportunity to ‘assemble’ 108 fighter jets in India at HAL as the makers of the jet Dassault Aviations were supposed to transfer its technology to HAL and DRDO.
Congress has also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took this decision without any approval from any decision-making committee nor did he consult any main stakeholders involved in the deal including the Indian Air Force officials.
WHY IS THE OFFSET DEAL MIRED IN CONTROVERSY?
Makers of the jet Dassault Aviations were supposed to invest 50% of cost back in India. The opposition has accused the centre of favouring Anil Ambani in the offset deal of the agreement claiming Anil Ambani’s company was wrongly chosen as the offset partner.
CENTRE SLAMS CONGRESS
The Centre on the other hand has vehemently denied all the charges levelled by Congress.
In a fierce speech delivered by the defence minister on January 4th on the floor of the lower house, Nirmala Sithatharaman said,
‘We don’t do defence dealings, we deal with defence.You didn’t conclude the deal, because it didn’t suit you. The deal didn’t get you money,Comparing the cost of Rs 526 crore with Rs 1,600 crore is like comparing apples to oranges. The cost quoted in 2007, will it remain the same in 2016, because there is escalation cost and there is exchange rate variation’
The Rafale controversy has several players and several aspects involved. This article merely aims to educate its readers about the main political issue at hand.