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Only 3 Copies of CAG's Rafale Report Likely to Reveal Pricing Details, Parliament May Get Redacted Version

The CAG report on Rafale ahead of elections will be closely scrutinised by both government and opposition and the bone of contention will be the cost at which the Modi government bought the aircraft.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:January 30, 2019, 6:10 PM IST
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New Delhi: On a day Congress president Rahul Gandhi met ailing Goa CM and former defence minister Manohar Parrikar bringing the spotlight back on the Rafale issue, CNN-News18 has learnt that the Comptroller and Auditor General report on the aircraft deal could be submitted in the upcoming budget session where the government will be presenting the vote-on-account ahead of the general election.

Top officials have confirmed to CNN-News18 that the final draft of the report is now with the CAG. "After the Ministry of Defence (MoD) replied to the queries raised by the auditors, the final draft was prepared incorporating the replies. The CAG is now looking at the final draft," an official said.

Rahul Gandhi has consistently attacked the government by alleging that PM Modi caused a loss to exchequer by buying 36 Rafale aircraft at more than double the cost of what the UPA was negotiating. The government has refused to reveal the exact cost of these aircraft and it is unlikely that the CAG report will reveal the cost.

"Only three copies of the final report will mention the price of each aircraft. These will most likely to be given only to MoD. The copies given to Parliament will have the price redacted. If the public accounts committee wants to know the price, they will have to obtain the relevant copy from the MoD," an official explained.

The Supreme Court in its order had referred to redaction of the price in the CAG report. Para 25 of the Supreme Court order said that the CAG report on the deal “has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee” and that “a redacted (edited) portion of the report was placed before Parliament, and is in public domain".

The government has gone to the apex court demanding correction in this part of the order since it is factually incorrect that the CAG had given report to the Public Accounts Committee at the time of the SC order.

The CAG report on Rafale ahead of elections will be closely scrutinised by both government and opposition and the bone of contention will be the cost at which the Modi government bought the aircraft.

Officials dealing with the CAG report say that the public copy of their audit will most likely remark on pricing even if the actual price is not revealed.

"Even without mentioning prices it is possible to opine whether the cost at which the current government finalised the deal is more or less than the earlier deal," an officer told CNN-News18. Officials also pointed out that the rupee to euro cost could also be factored in while assessing if the price of the aircraft in 2016 was more than the price being negotiated in 2008.

The Congress-led opposition has been demanding a joint parliamentary committee on the Rafale issue. The government has consistently refused the demand citing the Supreme Court order. If the CAG submits its report in the next fortnight, the next battleground could be the PAC-headed by Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Malikarjun Kharge and then the electoral battlefield in run up to the Lok Sabha polls.

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