Narendra Modi enhanced benchmark price in Rafale deal, alleges Congress

Published on Nov 15, 2018 10:21 PM IST

The Congress on Thursday stepped up its attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale, accusing him of enhancing the benchmark price for the 36 fighter aircraft by Euro 3 billion (Rs 22,743 crore) and waiving off the sovereign guarantee requirement in the deal.

The Congress has escalated its attack on PM Narendra Modi, alleging corruption in the Rafale deal.(AP)
The Congress has escalated its attack on PM Narendra Modi, alleging corruption in the Rafale deal.(AP)
New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

The Congress on Thursday stepped up its attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale, accusing him of enhancing the benchmark price for the 36 fighter aircraft by Euro 3 billion (Rs 22,743 crore) and waiving off the sovereign guarantee requirement in the deal.

“Why did the Prime Minister set a higher benchmark price of Euro 8.2 Billion (Rs 62,166 crore) from Euro 5.2 billion (Rs 39,422 crore)? Why did he waive the sovereign guarantee requirement,” asked Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala at a news conference in Delhi.

The main opposition party also accused the Prime Minister of compromising national interest on the issue with Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleging that the latest skeleton to tumble out of the “Rafale cupboard” is that there is no guarantee by the French government backing the deal.

“The latest skeleton to tumble out of the RAFALE cupboard: No Guarantee by the French Government backing the deal. BUT, our PM says there’s a letter from the French promising to be faithful. That’s enough to call this a “Government to Government” deal?” he asked on Twitter, using the hashtag “BikGayaChowkidar”. On November 14, HT quoted a former defence ministry official as saying that sovereign guarantees aren’t always needed for such deals.

“All Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) are subject to negotiations including clauses about dispute resolution and sovereign guarantee. IGAs are negotiated agreements in which nothing is written in stone. There is no standard format. India has bought arms earlier on the basis of a letter of comfort from Russia and other countries as well,” said Amit Cowshish, former chief financial advisor (acquisition).

The Congress has escalated its attack on the PM, alleging corruption in the deal and also targeted the government over the offset contract to Anil Ambani’s company. It also rejected Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Tappier’s remarks that his company itself chose Anil Ambani as the offset partner for the deal.

Surjewala said the only forum to investigate acts of omission, commission and corruption in the “biggest defence scam” of the country is to institute a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the deal.

A BJP spokesperson did not respond to queries from HT.

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