Everything You Must Know About The Rafale Deal Controversy
If you remember about the news when that in September 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France, which has been dubbed as “Rafale deal”, where India bought 36 off-the-shelf Dassault Rafale twin-engine fighters at a price of about Rs. 58,000 crore or 7.8 billion Euros. Keep reading, to know everything about the controversial deal.
The Rafale Deal Controversy
India and France signed a deal to buy 36 Rafale fighters on September 23, 2016.
In April 2015, PM Modi proclaimed that India would buy 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets from Dassault. Rafale was chosen in 2012 over rival offers from the US, Europe and Russia. The step was initiated to upgrade India’s ageing fleet. The original plan included purchase of 18 off-the-shelf jets from France’s Dassault Aviation, with 108 others to be assembled in India by the state-run HAL in Bengaluru.
The Modi-led BJP government next rowed back from the commitment of the last UPA government to buy 126 Rafales, with an opinion that the twin-engine planes would be too expensive and the deal fell after about decade-long negotiations between India and France. Facing with lesser number of fighters and a need to upgrade the Indian Air Force, Mr. Modi intervened and took a decision to buy 36 “ready-to-fly” fighters instead of trying to acquire technology from Dassault.
No sooner the deal was declared, the Congress accused the ruling BJP government of no transparency in the multi-billion dollar deal and called it as one of the biggest failures in the ‘Make-in-India’ programme.
In January 2016, India confirmed an order of 36 Rafale jets in defence deal with France and as per this, Dassault and its main partners, engine-maker Safran and electronic systems, maker Thales would share some technology with the DRDO and some private sector companies and HAL under the offsets clause.
The Rafale combat jet was designed from the start as a multi-role fighter for air-to-air and air-to-ground attack and its on-board Electronic Warfare (EW) systems can also perform reconnaissance and radar jamming roles.
Nearly a year and a half, after years that Prime Minister Modi announced the proposal during his visit to Paris, in September 2016, India signed an agreement with France, dubbed as “Rafale deal”, in which India would pay about Rs. 58,000 crore or 7.8 billion Euros for 36 Dassault Rafale twin-engine fighters. About 15 per cent is paid in advance.
In November 2016, a political debate over the Rafale deal began and the Congress accused the government of causing a loss to the taxpayers’ money by signing a deal worth of about Rs. 58,000 crores. It also claims that Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited has been picked without any proper justification; to be the French firm’s Indian partner. The Congress alleged that the price of each aircraft is thrice more than what the previous UPA did negotiate with France in the year 2012.
The claims were anyways rebutted by the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited with the government. They said that the renegotiated deal was transparent and better than the deal negotiated by the previous UPA government as it includes a superior weapons package and logistical support, which has been absent in the previous one.
The Congress, but kept on attacking on the government for refusing to table details of the Rafale deal over alleged irregularities. The Defence Minister earlier told the Parliament earlier this week that the details of the deal cannot be disclosed as per an inter-governmental agreement as it is a classified information.
Officials said that owing to national security reasons, there is a clause of confidentiality in the Rafale deal which bars the buyer and seller from discussing the pricing, which makes it impossible for any government to reveal the details about the deals.
Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister later blamed the Congress party of compromising the country’s security by seeking details of weaponry purchase along with the aircraft. He suggested the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to take some lessons from the former Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on national security.
The delivery of the Rafale jets is about to start from September, 2019.