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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

‘They lied’: Rahul Gandhi slams government over Rafale audit report

The Congress has said the CAG report on Rafale makes the cost comparison meaningless as it is “hidden behind Aligned Price”.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2019 19:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses a special press conference on Rafale deal issue at All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo by Sonu Mehta / Hindustan Times)
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses a special press conference on Rafale deal issue at All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo by Sonu Mehta / Hindustan Times)(Sonu Mehta/HT photo)
         

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday stepped up his attack on the Narendra Modi government saying that the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the Rafale deal makes it clear that the Narendra Modi government misled Parliament over the issue.

The Congress president said, “The CAG report says that the 2016 deal is 2.86 per cent cheaper. They had claimed it to be over 9 per cent cheaper. They made the statement in Parliament...The CAG report shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Raksha Mantri (Nirmala Sitharaman) lied in Parliament.”

Gandhi said, “The argument of the government for signing the Rafale deal has been that the Indian Air Force needed the aircraft urgently. But the note by a defence ministry official says that under Rafale deal signed by the Narendra Modi government, the last aircraft will come in 10 years. Compared to the old deal, the aircraft would come later.”

“The same note puts the benchmark price of the Rafale under the new deal at 55.6 per cent higher than the original deal,” Gandhi said in a press conference in New Delhi.

Earlier, in a series of tweets, the Congress rejected the government’s claim that the Comptroller and Auditor General report on Rafale deal has proved it right. The party has said that the CAG report hides “behind the Aligned Price” making the comparison between the costs of 2007 and 2016 Rafale deals meaningless.

Hours after the CAG report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress said, “This is the first time in history that a CAG report to Parliament has redacted numbers. This in itself raises a big question mark on the report. The comparison of the prices is based on the Aligned Price, the calculation of which is opaque.”

The CAG report mentioned that the deal struck by the Modi government in 2016 was 2.86 per cent cheaper. Responding to this finding, the Congress said, “The bank guarantee which was present in the previous deal and would have constituted an additional 7% cost is not present in the new deal. So the so-called savings of 2.86% can be attributed to the cost of the missing bank guarantee.”

“The reason the numbers have not been declared is that dollar for dollar, the deal costs more than before. The report has hidden behind the Aligned Price. The lack of numbers makes comparison of costs meaningless,” reads one of the tweets posted by the Congress party.

The CAG report has stated that the Rafale fighter jets bought by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government are “2.86 per cent cheaper” than the price that was being negotiated by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.

The CAG report also stated that India saved 17.08 per cent money for India specific enhancements in the 36 Rafale contract that was signed in 2016.

The report further states that three of the items in the Rafale deal have been bought at the same price as that negotiated by the UPA government, four others were purchased at lower than the “aligned price” making the 2016 contract cheaper by 2.86 per cent than the previous cost.

Hours before the CAG report was tabled, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had taken a jibe at the Centre and had said that the report held no value.

“You can see that they (Centre) are prejudiced who have already made a decision, so this report holds no value. Secondly, there is a conflict of interest. The man who was then a negotiator is now preparing the report,” he added reported news agency ANI.

Tweeting about the CAG report, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley wrote that the “lies of the mahajhootbandhan stand exposed by the CAG report”.

“How does democracy punish those who consistently lied to the nation? It cannot be that the Supreme Court is wrong, the CAG is wrong and only the dynast is right,” Jaitley wrote in a series of tweets while attacking Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has been spearheading a constant onslaught on the NDA government over the Rafale deal.

Earlier, hours before the CAG report was tabled, Rahul Gandhi cited a media report to fire a fresh salvo at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal.

In an early morning tweet, Rahul Gandhi wrote “The PM defended his personal RAFALE bypass deal on 2 counts: Better price and faster delivery. Both have been demolished by the revelations...”

First Published: Feb 13, 2019 15:30 IST