Rafale Deal: Who Desperately Wants to Sell India?
Earlier in 2015, PM Modi had announced that India will buy 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets and in September 2016, India signed a direct deal with the French government to purchase for 7.87-billion-euro deal. As a part of the contract, India will get latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles besides a five-year support package that assures high availability of the fighter and India will pay a 15% advance and deliveries to start in three years.
Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation. As per the company, Rafale has 'Omni role' capability to perform several actions at the same time such as Firing air-to-air missiles at a very altitude, air to ground, and interceptions during the same sortie.
This fighter jet carries out a wide range of missions like air-defence/air-superiority, reconnaissance, close air support dynamic targeting, air-to-ground precision strike/interdiction, anti-ship attacks, nuclear deterrence, buddy-buddy refuelling etc.
Indian Defence System and Rafale Deal
The Indian government has planned to revamp its Indian Air Force fleet by introducing Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts. After knowing this plan, many international aviation manufacturers expressed their interest in the plan. It was after a technical and flight evaluation conducted by the IAF in 2011, Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon turn out to be the best match as per the requirements. Rafale was declared L-1 bidder and the contract negotiation began with Dassault Aviation, its manufacturer. Due to lack of agreement on various terms of the Request For Proposal (RFP) compliance and cost-related issues, the contract negotiations remained incomplete even after 2 years. To be precise, there was no deal under the UPA government.
The Billion-Dollar Deal
The deal was initially estimated to be worth INR 54,000 crore. NDA government has insisted that it got significantly better terms than those quoted in the original bid under UPA, with a total reported saving of more than 1600 million Euros. However, a cost break breakdown of Rafale in the original bid under UPA regime and in the 36 aircraft in the government-to-government deal under NDA is not in the public domain.
What Did Congress Accuse BJP of?
Soon after the deal was declared, the Congress accused the ruling BJP of non-transparency in the multi-billion-dollar deal and called it "one of the biggest failures" of the 'Make-in-India' programme. It accused the government of violating the procurement procedure and of promoting the 'crony capitalist friends' at the cost of a defence public sector unit, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Congress alleged that the cost of each aircraft is three times more than what the previous UPA had negotiated with France in 2012.
Anil Ambani’s Involvement
Congress also claimed that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited had been unfairly picked to be the French Firm’s Indian partner. After the Rafale deal agreement was completed, it became clear that Rs 30,000 crore that has to be invested in the Indian ecosystem will be channelled through Dassault Reliance Aerospace, a joint venture established between Anil Ambani's Reliance Aerostructure and Dassault.
This is, in fact, a very clear link that establishes Anil Ambani’s involvement in the deal. Though the government denies all the allegations put forth by the Congress, it goes without saying that the government has twisted the facts to benefit the ‘crony capitalist friends’. The government’s approach risking the safety and security of the nation is condemnable.