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Rafale scam: Cong targets Modi

Rafale scam: Cong targets Modi
Congress MP, Gaurav Gogoi addressing the media. (NP)
Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, SEP 2 (NPN) | Publish Date: 9/2/2018 1:01:33 PM IST

PM colluded to help Anil Ambani; compromised national security’

Congress MP from Assam, Gaurav Gogoi, launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged collusion in the multi-crore Rafale fighter jet scam.

Addressing a press conference alongside Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) president K Therie and general secretaries Captain GK Zhimomi and Jonathan Ao here on Sunday, Gogoi termed the Rafale deal signed with France in January 2016 as “a scam involving country’s security in which the Prime Minister colluded to help Anil Ambani.”

He recalled that when the deal was finalised when UPA was in power in 2012, it was agreed that India would procure 126 Rafale fighter jets from French defence firm Dassault Aviation at a cost of Rs 526.10 crore per fighter jet. The decision was reached after the defence ministry assessed that the Indian Air Force required 126 such jets to upgrade its ageing fleet.

Gogoi said it was hoped that the deal struck by the UPA government would be carried forward, but Modi acted on his own accord during his visit to France in January 2016. 

“Modi unilaterally decided to compromise the security of the country during his visit to France, when neither the defence minister nor any official from the defence ministry accompanied him but his business friends,” he alleged.

According to the MP, the original deal of 126 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 526 crore per jet made in 2012 was completely overlooked when Modi announced emergency “off-the-shelf” purchase of 36 Rafale fighters in Paris for 7.5 billion euro (or Rs 1,670.70 crore) per aircraft and Rs 60,145 crore overall for 36 aircrafts, thereby causing a loss of Rs 41,205 crore to the public exchequer.

Gogoi alleged that when the Prime Minister announced the purchase of 36 Rafale jets, no mandatory prior approval of Cabinet Committee on Security was taken, besides not following mandatory requirement of Defence Procurement Procedure for “price discovery” through instrumentalities of Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) and Price Negotiation Committee (PNC). 

He added transfer of technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for manufacture of Rafale jets in India was also “sacrificed” by Modi.

The Lok Sabha member also pointed out that instead of awarding the contract worth Rs 30,000 crore to a public sector defence firm HAL, which had both technical expertise and experience, the technology to design and develop was given to Reliance Defence Limited formed barely 10 days before Modi had visited France in 2015. He pointed out that Reliance Defence Limited, which had not even manufactured a wheel or wing of an aircraft then, was preferred over a public sector unit like HAL with years of experience.

Gogoi said in the original tender floated by the UPA, two fighter jets were found equal on all parameters – Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. He informed newsmen that manufacturer of Eurofighter Typhoon had written a letter on July 4, 2014 to then defence minister AK Anthony offering to reduce price by 20%. 

So, when deciding to make a fresh purchase by Modi, both Dassault Aviation and Eurofighter’s manufacturer should have asked to bid afresh through inter governmental agreement (IGA) route so as to arrive at the lowest price, he pointed out.

On keeping the price of Rafale jets under wraps, Gogoi accused the NDA government of hiding behind the secrecy clause. 

He remarked, “The Prime Minister has colluded to help his friend Anil Ambani. The money used to buy the Rafale jet is not the government’s personal property but tax payers’ money. 

The current government has stolen crores of rupees that belong to the people.”

According to Gogoi, the PIB press release in February this year quoting defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman that “no offset contract has been awarded” was  falsified by the press release and  investor presentation of Reliance in annexure A2 and A5 and also the 2016 annual report of Dassault Aviation in annexure A1.

He said the “biggest lie” of Sitharaman that no offset contract had been awarded was further exposed by French defence minister Florence Parly during her New Delhi visit on October 27, 2017 and during which foundation of Reliance’s factory was laid to execute offsets in Nagpur in the presence of Nitin Gadkari, Devendra Fadnavis and Anil Ambani.

Lamenting how the voice of Congress was always stifled in the Parliament, Gogoi accused the Modi government of indulging in diversionary tactics whenever it was faced with tough questions. Alleging that Reliance Limited had served legal notices to elected Congress MPs in an effort to suppress their voices, he asserted that his party would continue to raise its voice and demand constituting a joint parliamentary committee to probe the scam.

Referring to Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and Mehul Choksi, Gogoi said they had all been allowed to get away scot free. He added Choksi, who was now a citizen of Antigua, had not been deported by the Caribbean country despite Modi visiting it.  

He said, “The Prime Minister only talks of Maan Ki Baat, but his heart beats for the corrupt, aid the corrupt and he is personally involved in the Rafale scam.”

NPCC chief Therie, who also spoke briefly at the press conference, commented that the Rafale scam was one of the biggest scams post Independence. 

The press conference was moderated by NPCC general secretary Captain Zhimomi.

 

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