Modi government violated procedures in Rafale deal: Sibal

Modi government violated procedures in Rafale deal: Sibal
Kapil SIbal (file)
New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) | Publish Date: 9/9/2018 11:29:13 AM IST

The Modi government violated procedures in the Rafale deal with the External Affairs Ministry not in the know before it was announced in 2015, alleges senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who wants the government to tell the truth to the people, including the price of the fighter jets.

“You buy 36 Rafales off-the-shelf without informing the foreign ministry. Even the CEO of Dassault did not know 15 days before the announcement. He thought 95 per cent of the deal with HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) had been done, only five per cent was left,” Sibal told IANS in an interview.

He said then Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar was not aware of the deal two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced it in France on April 10, 2015.

In his just-released book, “Shades of Truth--Journey Derailed”, the former Union minister refers to the fighter jet deal continuing to be a mystery. Modi did not take into confidence the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, when on a visit to Paris in April 2015, he announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft off-the-shelf. 

On the eve of Modi’s visit to France, at a customary press conference, Jaishankar told the media that HAL was Dassault Aviation’s partner, thereby suggesting that the public sector undertaking was ready to strike the deal.

Modi broke convention by announcing the deal on foreign soil and surprised everyone by snatching it away from HAL. In March 2015, Dassault and HAL had publicly announced that the deal was 90 per cent done. By April 2015, on his visit to France, the deal was undone. “The stepmotherly treatment of a PSU surprised even those in government. Modi preferred a private company to a PSU for reasons that he knows best,” Sibal says in the book.

Asked about government’s assertion that there is no wrongdoing in the deal, he said: “It is like saying that the Birla diaries have certain names but there is no evidence. Unless you investigate how will you get evidence?”

Sibal said the previous deal negotiated by the Congress-led United Progressive Aliance (UPA) government for the purchase of 126 Rafales was cancelled by the present government.

Asked about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) contention that the deal had gone through the channels of the PNC and the CNC, Sibal said the procedures BJP leaders were referring to were for the deal negotiated by the UPA government. He said the CNC and the PNC were formed after Modi announced the deal. 

There was no CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) before the deal. “How could there be CCS when he said I buy 36 Rafales off-the-shelf. So you can ex-post facto say anything but there are procedures to be followed.”

IAF making preparations to welcome Rafale jets

In the midst of a political  firestorm over the Rafale jet deal, the Indian Air Force is quietly making preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft, official sources said.

They said the IAF is sending a batch of pilots by the end of this year to France for training on Rafale jets.

A number of IAF teams have already visited France to help Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale, incorporate India-specific enhancements on-board the fighter aircraft.

India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September, 2016, for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. The delivery of the jets -- capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles -- is scheduled to begin from September next year.


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