New Delhi: Raising a fresh round of debate, Congress President Rahul Gandhi during his speech in Lok Sabha on Friday said that French President Emmanuel Macron told him that India had no pact with India with regards prices on Rafale fighter jets.
“The French president told me that there is no pact with India,” said Gandhi on the floor of the House.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi had met French President Emmanuel Macron on March 11, 2018 and was accompanied by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Congress has been attacking the BJP government on the defence deal, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of causing loss to the state exchequer by buying the fighter jets at an inflated rate.
The Congress leader said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to disclose the price for the fighter jets citing threat to national security, but Dassault Aviation in its Annual Report of 2016 as also of 2017 says that they sold 36 Rafale aircraft for 7.5 Billion USD or Rs 1,670 crore per aircraft.
The same aircraft was sold to Egypt and Qatar 11 months at Rs 1,319 crore per aircraft and there is a clear-cut loss of Rs 12,632 crore to the state exchequer, he said.
The Rafale deal signed after an international bidding was opened finally on December 12, 2012 and the UPA price as per information in public domain was about Rs 526 crore.
The country’s national auditor CAG is examining the Rafale fighter jet deal worth Rs 58,000 crore on which the Congress has been targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, accusing it of wrongdoing.
Minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre, replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is conducting an audit of the capital acquisition system of Indian Air Force, including the Rafale aircraft deal. To a separate query, he also said four cases of corruption in defence deals have been registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) since 2015.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale jets. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September 2019.
The Congress has been raising several questions about the deal, including on the rates, and accused the government of compromising national interest and security while causing a loss to the public exchequer. The government has rejected the allegations.
Asked about details of the defence deals finalised in the last three-and-a-half years, he said information about agreements signed for purchase of arms and ammunition “cannot be disclosed in the interest of national security as well as in the interest of India's relations with foreign countries”.
The Congress has also been demanding details of the Rafale deal. However, the government has refused to share the details, citing confidentiality provisions of a 2008 Indo-France pact.
Bhamre said the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 envisages signing of an integrity pact between government and the bidders for all capital procurement schemes of Rs 20 crore and above as against earlier provision of signing such a pact in cases involving Rs 100 crore and above.
He said no firm or entity has been blacklisted for misconduct in defence deals during the last three years. However, six firms were debarred from further business dealings with the defence ministry for a period of 10 years.
Bhamre said business dealings were suspended or put on hold in respect of 14 firms.