Rafale Deal : What’s the Controversy?
Highlighting the newspapers, and media channels – Rafale Deal is one of the major controversies raging in India. Congress is leaving no stone unturned to either accuse Prime Minister Modi for corruption or the industrialist Anil Ambani, claiming that his Reliance Defence Limited became an offset partner of Dassault by unfair means. Unaware of the precarious details? Have a read through to know what the political battle is all about:
What is the Rafale Deal?
‘Rafale Deal’ is the agreement wherein the Defence Ministry of India is purchasing 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation, company based in France. In September 2016, India and France had signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the same.
When it all began…
In August 2007, the Congress-led UPA government issued the requirement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, as Indian Air Force was facing the severe shortage of fighter jets with a quality potential. During that time, 18 jets were to be purchased in a ready-to-fly condition, while the rest were to be built in India, under the name of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). By January 2012 Rafale was selected for the purchase. However, Congress left the deal incomplete due to budget restraints. On the arrival of Modi government, the Prime Minister traveled to France in 2015 to re-negotiate.
The abrupt allegations…
The hue and cry emerged with the defence procurement policy, as Dassault required an offset partner, and India’s Reliance Defence was chosen. Government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was nowhere named in the contracts. Only the next day of signing, Indian National Congress began to seek details about the agreement and asked the government to publicize them. They alleged that Anil Ambani-led Reliance was picked by unfair means and that Narendra Modi had overlooked the capabilities of HAL.
The assertions seem to be quite pointless, as ‘confidentiality clause’ was present in the Rafale deal. It prevented any of the two governments involved, from disclosing details about the deal as it posed concerns of national security. Also, it was of prior knowledge that HAL had been dropped from the deal in the previous UPA regime because the two companies were unable to agree on the terms of production. French government issued a statement mentioning that French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the Rafale contract. Dassault also clarified that Anil Ambani was their own choice, and they had not been influenced by the words of any political party. Fed up with the blames, Ambani has even threatened to sue Congress for defamation. Arun Jaitley, the finance minister of India, has accused Rahul Gandhi – the chief of Congress, for compromising the safety of India by seeking the details.
Adding to the feud, Congress suggests that since the deal is worth Rs. 58,000 crores, it is a misuse of taxpayers’ money and that the pricing of the jets has also gone higher, from the time when UPA had been working on the deal. The government officials, however, continue to deny the allegations, replying that not only the prices are cheaper, but superior weaponry and better logistical support has been integrated instead. It can be very well concluded, that instead of being proud of the steps taken in the Rafale deal, Congress is incessantly trying to create controversies, for their previous lack of beneficiary negotiation with Dassault Aviation.
What is your opinion about the controversy? Should the grave details about fighter-jets be disclosed to the public, as asked by the opposition? Let us know in the comments section below.