The Ministry of Defence has issued a statement on Rafale deal and related inter-governmental agreement followed by incessant criticisms by Congress party over the matter. The ministry stated Unfounded allegations being made regarding '16 Inter-Governmental Agreement to procure 36 Rafale aircraft from France. It wouldn't have merited response but for damage being caused by misleading statements, sought to be repeatedly perpetrated on matter of national security.
The statement comes a day after the Congress cornered the Modi government over the Rafale aircraft deal, questioning why it was deliberately hiding facts and changing its standpoint on the multi-billion dollar defense pact.
The minister said, "It ought to be remembered that it was under tenure of the previous Government that the earlier initiative of 2002 to meet requirement of the IAF for much-needed augmentation of its fighter strength ran aground. In 2012, the then Defence Minister exercised unprecedented personal veto on laid down institutional process then underway for procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. All this happened when there was an alarming decline in IAF's fighter strength."
"Demand that Government disclose details and value of the contract for the Rafale aircraft contracted in 2016 is unrealistic. The approximate acquisition cost of the Rafale aircraft has already been provided to the Parliament."
"Provision of exact item-wise cost and other info will reveal, inter alia, details regarding various customizations and weapons systems specially designed to augment effectiveness and lethality of assets, impact our military preparedness and compromise our national security. Such details would also come under the ambit of the security agreement signed in 2008. In not revealing item-wise details of contract, Government is merely following in letter and spirit confidentiality provisions of bilateral India-France Agreement of 2008 signed by the previous Government."
It may also be noted that contrary to the impression sought, to be created by the Opposition, in the earlier proposal to procure Rafale, which ended in a stalemate, there was no provision for transfer of technology but only to manufacture under licence. Government was unable to agree on terms for even that in its negotiations with the vendor, resulting in long-drawn exercise under earlier Government ultimately turning futile.
As per the the ministry, no Indian Offset Partner for '16 deal for 36 Rafale Aircraft so far selected by vendor (DA) because per guidelines, DA is free to select Indian Offset Partners and provide their details at the time of seeking offset credits, or 1 year prior to discharge of offset obligation.