What is the Rafale deal? An explainer and the controversy around it
New Delhi, July 23: The Rafale deal is all over the news once again. Congress president, Rahul Gandhi raked it up in the Parliament, which prompted even the French government to issue a clarification regarding the secrecy deal.
The issue has been a debating point between the Congress and BJP ever since the deal was signed between India and France in 2016. Since then there have been umpteen twists and turns on the issue. Let us take a look and understand what the Rafale deal is all about.
September 23 2016:
India and France signed an inter-governmental agreement for the supply of 36 Rafale aircrafts, initial consignments of weapons, long term maintenance support, simulators with annual maintenance and associated equipment.
India had agreed to pay around Rs 58,000 crore or 7.8 billion euros for the jets and the delivery was scheduled to begin from September 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande had agreed to scale back an original plan to buy 126 Rafale jets to just 36 in fly-away condition. This was done to meet the urgent need of the Indian Air Force.
February 5 2017:
The Indian Air Force in an RTI reply said that the details regarding the supply of 36 Rafale jets could not be disclosed as it is confidential in nature.
November 14, 2017
The Congress accuses the government of compromising national security and alleged a huge scam. The Congress said that the government signed the deal on September 3 2016 for purchase of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault for approximately Rs 58,000 crore and on October 3, Reliance Defence Limited owned by Anil Ambani tied with the French company for a joint venture for defence production in India.
The Congress also cited a Reliance document to point out that off-sets in the deal, which are half the cost of the 36 aircrafts, work out to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore.
Further the Congress said that this would mean that the deal is worth Rs 60,000 crore. Non transparency in the deal also denied the transfer of technology to HAL, the party also alleged.
November 15, 2017
France reiterates that the deal is in the best interest of India. French sources also said that the jet was selected for its outstanding performance and competitive price.
November 16, 2017
Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "Self "Reliance" is obviously a critical aspect of "Make in India. Can you explain "Reliance" on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal?"
IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said that there was no overpricing in the purchase and the government had negotiated a good deal.
November 17, 2017
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that allegations relating to the procurement deal for 36 Rafale fighter jet were "shameful" and that such bickering was a "disservice" to the armed forces.
November 18, 2017
Rahul Gandhi hits back at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the Rafale deal, claiming it was "shameful" that her boss was "silencing" her.
"Dear RM, what's shameful is your boss silencing you.
Please tell us:
1. Final price of each Rafale jet?
2. Did PM take CCS permission before announcing purchase in Paris?
3. Why PM bypassed experienced HAL and gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?" Rahul tweeted.
Reacting to him, Sitharaman slammed the previous UPA government for not taking a decision on the Rafale fighter jet deal for about 10 years and said she could not spell out in detail what happened due to the delay as it involved the nation's security.
The minister said that the procurement order was placed "properly" and "by not slipping away" from any procedures. She further said that the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the deal and all formalities were complied with.
November 25, 2017
The issue was raked up once again with Rahul Gandhi saying, " I would like to Modiji three questions. First is there is a difference in the cost of the planes in the first and second contract. Did India more or less money as per the second contract. Has the industrialist , who was given the contract, ever manufactured planes?"
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari asked the government to make public the details of the re-negotiated deal for the public to draw a comparison on whether the deal negotiated now is better that the one done during the UPA rule.
Tewari alleged that a shortlisted company along with Rafale had also written to the government offering the price of its aircraft at Rs 444 crore less than the purported rate at which the renegotiated Rafale deal was struck.
December 18, 2017
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that there cannot be any comparison between the cost of the 36 Rafale fighter jets it inked with France and the price negotiated by the previous UPA regime for the original 126-fighter aircraft deal as the deliverables were different.
The Reliance Group firm has maintained that the joint venture between Reliance Aerostructure Ltd and Dassault Aviation was a bilateral agreement between two private companies and had nothing to do with the government.
December 20, 2017
Nirmala Sitharaman said all the provisions of Defence Procurement Procedure have been followed and the inter-governmental agreement on the Rafale deal was signed only after the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security.
February 10, 2018
At a Karnataka election rally, Rahul Gandhi however, intensifying his attack on the Centre over the Rafale fighter jet deal, alleged it was the biggest issue of corruption in the country and asked the prime minister to reply why he took the contract from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and gave it to a "friend".
The Congress accused Modi of compromising national security by purchasing 36 aircraft at three times the price agreed upon during the previous UPA government. Citing the 2016 annual report of French manufacturer Dassault Aviation, the Congress said that while the price of 48 aircraft (24 each to Egypt and Qatar) was shown as Euro 7.9 billion, the cost of 36 aircraft sold to India was mentioned as Euro 7.5 billion.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who was on a visit to India, said the Rafale deal with India was a win-win approach and its details could not be revealed for commercial reasons.
March 12, 2018
Congress President Rahul Gandhi met French President Emmanuel Macron. However, he did not raise the Rafale fighter jet deal issue, said party sources.On the same day, details provided by the government in Parliament revealed that the Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal in August, 2016, nearly 16 months after the announcement of its procurement was made by Prime Minister Modi during his visit to France in April 2015.
March 14, 2018
The Union government ruled out any plan to issue a White Paper on the Rafale fighter jet deal with France.