Cong demands judicial probe into Rafale fighter deal " "

The Congress today demanded a judicial probe into the BJP-led NDA government's decision to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets from France at an "inflated" price.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged that the Modi government had betrayed Karnataka by denying Rs 36,000 crore "offset Rafale contract" to HAL, which went to a private corporate entity with "zero" experience of manufacturing aircraft.

"The Congress demands a probe into Modi government's decision to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets by a sitting Supreme Court judge to unravel the truth, including the inflated price involved in the deal," he told reporters here.

The public exchequer was "duped" as the Rafale jets were purchased at nearly 300 per cent markup price compared to the bid during the UPA government, he claimed.

"Shockingly, Dassault Aviation sold same 48 Rafale aircraft to two other countries - Egypt and Qatar in 2015 for a mere Rs 1,319.80 crore per aircraft," he said.

"Then why did India pay Rs 1,670.70 crore per Rafale aircraft, purchase of which was announced by Prime Minister on April 10, 2015? We are clearly paying an extra price of Rs 350.90 crore per aircraft or Rs 12,632 crore for 36 aircraft," he said.

Surjewala alleged that by cancelling transfer of technology to HAL, the Modi government has denied thousands of jobs and Rs 36,000 crore investment in Karnataka through offset contract between HAL-Dassault.

"This betrayal also was also exposed in a briefing by the Foreign Secretary on April 8, 2015 where it was declared that discussions were on between French company, the defence ministry and HAL which is involved in this," he said.

Despite this public admission, Modi superseded HAL and betrayed Karnataka's interests within 48 hours by announcing off-the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafales on April 10, 2015 with zero role for HAL in manufacture or offset contracts, Surjewala said.

He said the offset contract had been given to Reliance Aerospacestructure Limited.

On the contrary, Surjewala said Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had claimed in a PIB release on February 7 this year that Dassault Aviation has not awarded the offset contract.

"Simple question is, who is lying - Sitharaman or Reliance/Dassault Aviation? Hasn't the BJP MP from Karnataka, Sitharaman not deceived Karnataka's interests?" he asked.


(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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