Rafale deal not govt-to-govt pact, says Kapil Sibal

The Congress on Wednesday alleged that the deal is not a “government-to-government” pact between India and France as is being suggested by the government.

It said the Centre should not have signed the contract with Dassault alleging that it was a “non-complaint” vendor as it had not given assurances on aircraft quality and on man-hours required for manufacture of the jets.

The Congress, however, did not ask the government to scrap the contract.

Addressing a press conference, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal claimed France has never done a government-to-government contract on defence. “This is not a government to government contract. Dassault should make a public statement if they ever had a Government to Government contract prior to this. In fact, there is no such procedure in France,” he said.

“In this case… the people who negotiated the deal were Dassault representatives along with Eric Trappier himself…. That is on the side of Dassault and on the Indian side Ministry of Defence and Air Force officials negotiated the deal. The only thing that happened was that the Government of France gave a confirmation letter. The negotiations were done by Dassault. How could it be a Government to Government contract?” he asked.

Sibal claimed Dassault was a non-compliant vendor.

“In the bid that Dassault gave, it provided the number of hours to be taken for manufacture of 108 aircraft…. The HAL had opposed that figure and said the man hours that you are claiming is wrong…. It had said it will take almost three times the number of man-hours. Actually the exact is 2.74. Dassault was asked to back its claim by providing an affidavit or an undertaking. Dassault refused to give either the affidavit or the undertaking and under Government of India procedures Dassault became non-complaint.

“Had they given the total number of hours, it would have been L-2. Therefore, they did not give that affidavit. Once it became non-compliant, Government of India cannot have any contract with Dassault,” he said.

He said the government had also asked Dassault to take “full responsibility for the production, quality and performance of the 108 aircraft” but it flatly refused.

Source: Indian Express

Modi Compromised National Security, Hiked Prices of Rafale Jet Deal to Favor Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence: Congress

The Congress on Thursday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had enhanced and hiked the benchmark price for for the Rafale fighter jet deal from 5.2 billion Euros to 8.2 billion Euros and discarded objections by one of his own ministries on the sovereign guarantee issue.

It said the “entire spectrum of deception” on the deal “lies at the doorstep of the Prime Minister”, The Indian Express claimed in a report.

The CPI(M), too, hit out at the government demanding a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the deal.

The Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala claimed that the negotiating team had “a serious dispute” on the benchmark price, which was referred to the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Manohar Parrikar refused to hike prices of Rafale

“Parrikar as also the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the Defence Minister and the chiefs of the three armed forces also didn’t agree and could not decide on the higher benchmark price of € 8.2 Billion. So DAC referred it to Cabinet Committee on Security (CSS) headed by the Prime Minister. PM Modi as the head of the CCS accepted the higher benchmark price without any negotiations or inquiry. Why did the Prime Minister set a higher benchmark price,” Sujrewala asked.

The Law Ministry had on December 9, 2015 “flagged the issue of “No Bank Guarantee/ Sovereign Guarantee” by the French Government and noted the concern that the contract involves huge payouts from the public exchequer without actual delivery in the form of advance payments.

The then Defence Minister Parikkar, Surjewala claimed, had in March 2016 refused to “opine of accepting the Letter of Comfort in lieu of bank-French government guarantee. The Air Acquisition Wing of the Defence Ministry, on the other hand, had put up a note in August of that year stating that “Bank Guarantees may be insisted from French side as required under our procedure and Indian side may bear the Bank Guarantee charges.”

Modi Waved Off Bank Guarantee

He said the Law Ministry reiterated its view and conveyed it again to the Defence Ministry on August 24, but the “very next day, PM Modi as head of the CCS accepted the ‘Letter of Comfort’ and waived off the condition of ‘Bank Guarantee/French Government Sovereign Guarantee’.”

“Why did PM Modi compromise national interests by waiving the Bank Guarantee/French Government’s Sovereign Guarantee’ in violation of Defence Procurement Procedure?” he asked. The Congress has alleged that all this was done only to favour one company Reliance Defence which is headed by Anil Ambani and levelled charges of crony capitalism on the BJP Central Govt.

On Wednesday, Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the Supreme Court no “sovereign guarantee” was given by the French government but it had issued a “letter of comfort” that was good enough to be “governmental guarantee”, according to a report in The Hindu.

Defence Minister Parrikar refused to accept Letter of Comfort

Sujrewala also claimed that Mr. Parrikar had refused to accept the “letter of comfort” in place of a sovereign/bank guarantee and cited an August 18, 2016 note in which the Air Acquisition wing of the Defence Ministry stated, “Bank Guarantees may be insisted from French side as required under our procedure and Indian side may bear the Bank Guarantee charges”.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the government’s own admission in the Supreme Court that there is no sovereign guarantee from the French government but only a letter of comfort which is not legally enforceable to ensure the delivery of this high-value contract was sensational.

with inputs from The Hindu & Indian Express

Big Blow For Modi-led BJP Govt, As Supreme Court Says Submit Details of Rafale Pricing, Ambani Selection Procedure

New Delhi: The highest court in the country, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Narendra Modi-led BJP government when it asked the latter to submit complete details of the Rafale Jet fighter deal, including pricing, procedure for selection of Anil Ambani’s firm Reliance Defence and the reasons why other Indian companies, particularly the PSU HAL were not given the same kind of ‘special treatment’ that was accorded to Anil Ambani.

According to an NDTV report, hearing petitions questioning the Rafale jet deal, the Supreme Court today asked the government to submit details of pricing and the selection of Anil Ambani’s defence firm as India offset partner.

The government refused to do so claiming that the information is classified, after which the court asked for a written submission in the form of an affidavit, within 10 days that these details cannot be shared.The SC will pass further orders based on the affidavit submitted by the government and can even compel the government to make it’s paper-work public – at least in a sealed cover before the court.

In the last hearing, the court had asked for details of the decision-making process that led to the deal but had emphasized that it would not get into “pricing or suitability” of the jets.

But today, the court said, “We would like the details of pricing and cost to be submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover. This may be submitted in the next 10 days.”

The government argued that pricing was not revealed in Parliament and the earlier government had also not disclosed details of a previous deal. Say it in an affidavit, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told the government’s lawyer.

The court is hearing petitions, including those filed by former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan questioning the jet deal between India and France and the choice of Anil Ambani’s inexperienced Reliance Defence as India partner for Rafale maker Dassault.

Mr Shourie called the court’s order a “very, very substantial step forward” in the controversy. “Confidentiality does not relate to price, only technical specifications. It will be subject to challenge. It will be difficult to say pricing is confidential,” Mr Shourie told NDTV.

Beginning the hearing, the judges noted that the “suitability of the jet and its utility” has not been questioned. “What had been questioned is the bonafide of the decision-making and price,” they said.

Petitions before the court call for an investigation into the Rs. 59,000 crore deal for 36 fighters from Dassault, announced in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks in Paris with then French president Francois Hollande.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has led the opposition charge against the Rafale deal, repeatedly accusing the government of negotiating a not-so-favourable contract just to benefit Anil Ambani. Both the government and the industrialist have denied the charge.

The political row escalated sharply after Francois Hollande said in an interview last month that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani’s company as India partner.

The previous Congress-led UPA government had negotiated with Dassault for 126 Rafale jets under which 18 jets were to be supplied in a fly-away condition and 108 were to be manufactured in India along with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). However, the UPA could not seal the deal.

In the deal negotiated by the new government, Anil Ambani’s firm became Dassault’s offset partner with no experience in the field. As part of the offset clause, Dassault has to ensure that business worth at least half the money – Rs. 30,000 – is generated in India.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) that Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa says can be a “game-changer” and booster for India’s defence.

Source: NDTV

NY Times takes up ‘Fishy’ Rafale deal, says Modi’s image as incorruptible destroyed, predicts a “tough one” for Modi in 2019 polls

The article, titled “With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi, says that the deal has caused a great deal of damage to Modi’s incorruptible image.

America’s top newspaper The New York Times has called the Rafale deal “fishy” in a recently published article.Stating that the deal has finally given a chance to the main opposition party, the Congress, to land a blow on PM Modi, the newspaper said that for the first time in last four years, the opposition parties have been able to “build a damaging narrative and land a solid punch” on Modi.

“For several years, Indian politics have been dominated by Mr Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which has grown accustomed to pushing around its rivals,” said the article, published on October 6.It added, “But for the first time in a long time, the opposition, by building a damaging narrative around this arms deal, has landed a solid punch, and is hoping to keep the pressure on Mr Modi and his party ahead of next year’s general election.”

Taking note of accusations being leveled by Congress, the article went on to say, “Congress Party officials have dominated headlines and social media with their accusations that Mr. Modi inflated the price of the aircraft, estimated to cost $8.7 billion, and brought in a trusted ally on the deal so his political party could get something back in return.”

The article, titled “With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi, further says that the deal has caused a great deal of damage to Modi’s uncorruptible image. Quoting Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, the newspaper termed the deal as “fishy.”

Hailing the Rafale deal “a new spring in the step” for the Congress, the newspaper predicted that the Lok Sabha election in 2019 is going to be a tough one for Modi.

Source: National Herald

 

Kamal Haasan demands probe into Rafale deal?

Actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan has said that an investigation should be carried out to answer questions that are being raised over the Rafale deal.

Speaking to media persons on Friday, Haasan said that at a time when suspicions are being raised against the central government’s conduct, the best way out is to order an investigation that will answer all questions.

“There are a lot of allegations and suspicions [about the Rafale deal]. An investigation must be ordered. If one is innocent, there is nothing to fear,” he said.

The Modi government is facing criticism from the Opposition over alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal with French defence manufacturing giant Dassault Aviation.

The Congress has been accusing the central government of nepotism and said that it gave special preference to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence over other competitors for an offset contract with Dassault. The second criticism is about the alleged price escalation of the Rafale fighter jets from the UPA-era deal.

The chief of the Makkal Needhi Mayam also attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party for the rise in fuel prices. Haasan said the continuous rise in fuel prices is resulting in the hike in prices of other commodities too.

“The central government is more responsible for this [than the state government]. When the BJP was in the Opposition, the party had protested against hike in fuel prices. Why is not doing anything now?” he asked.

Source: India Today

French President Emmanuel Macron Didn’t Contradict Hollande’s Claim On Rafale Deal: Congress

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Jaipal Reddy Thursday alleged French President Emmanuel Macron did not contradict Francois Hollande’s claim on Rafale deal which was tantamount to the confirmation of his predecessor’s claim.

Noting that the “Rafale scam has begin to stink and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has begin to sink”, Mr Reddy said India has had a very good relationship with France and “when a former French president says something, this country needs to sit up and take notice”.

Mr Reddy claimed the prime minister is getting caught or sandwiched between international revelations and internal disclosures.

He alleged Anil Ambani’s company was taken as an offset partner because of the pressure from Government of India and it was so intense that the French authorities were left with no choice.

“It is for the first time that the present French president Macron while answering a specific question avoided the question. He simply said I was not incharge at that time. In other words, he did not contradict the version of former French president Hollande,” he claimed.

“The point we would like to highlight is this consistent non-contradiction by the current French authorities which is absolutely tantamount to confirmation on the facts mentioned by the former president,” he claimed.

“The non-contraction by the current president of France is equivalent to an international revelation,” he added.

Mr Reddy said PM Modi owed an explanation to the nation about the statement made by the former president of France on Mr Ambani’s company.

Source: PTI

Shatrughan Sinha Appeals To PM Narendra Modi On Rafale Deal: “Sir Ji, Break Your Silence”

NEW DELHI: For the second time in less than a week, BJP parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha has asked the government to clear the air on the multi-million dollar Rafale fighter jet deal, which has been caught in a political slugfest. Today, in a tweet, Mr Sinha asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence and contradict former French president Francois Hollande, who had dropped a bombshell last week on the deal for the 36 Rafale jets.

“Sir ji! Please break your silence and contradict former French President Hollande (since both of you were present in meeting)….otherwise people will think he is speaking the truth,” Shatrughan Sinha, who has been consistently critical of his party’s government, tweeted.

Last week, a French publication had quoted Mr Hollande as saying that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner for the Rs. 58,000 crore Rafale deal.

Mr Hollande’s remarks have been denied by both the French government and Dassault, the maker of the Rafale jets.

The opposition has been alleging that PM Modi sealed the deal without any transparency and how it benefitted Anil Ambani. The Anil Ambani-led group is manufacturing aerospace components as part of the offset component of the Rafale deal. The clause requires Rafale manufacturer Dassault to ensure that business worth around Rs. 30,000 crores is generated for the Indian defence system. Reliance Defence is not making components for the Rafales ordered by India but is building assemblies for Dassault business jets.

On Saturday, Mr Sinha, 72, had asked the government to come clean on the fighter jet deal.

“The statement has come from a person who was not only a former France president but the one under whom the (Rafale) deal was sealed. Some questions have arisen from it, which need to be answered,” Mr Sinha, the lawmaker from Bihar’s Patna Sahib seat, had said in the presence of Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh.

“People are questioning why an experienced company like HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) was set aside and a new company (Reliance Defence) got the opportunity (for offset contract under the deal),” the actor-turned-politician had added.

The deal to buy Rafale fighters was signed by the NDA government with France in 2016 after the previous Congress government’s negotiations were scrapped. The Congress-led UPA’s plan was to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France’s Dassault Aviation, with 108 others being assembled in India by the HAL in Bengaluru. But according to the new deal, India would buy 36 ready-to-fly Rafale jets.

Mr Sinha’s comments were criticized by fellow party parliamentarian RK Sinha on Monday, who accused him of siding with opposition leaders like Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav.

“You should first decide where you stand. With Modi or against Modi. The people of the country will settle the account accordingly,” RK Sinha had said on his Facebook page.

Mr Sinha, called Shotgun for his acerbic comments that consistently attack his own party, has had an uneasy relationship with the BJP for a few years and often cribs that the party, under PM Modi and Amit Shah, had relegated him to the spectator seats in Bihar.

Source: NDTV

Rafale deal: NCP says Pawar hasn’t given any clean chit to Modi, demands JPC probe

Mumbai, Sep 27: The NCP said Thursday that its chief Sharad Pawar has not given any clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale issue, after the opposition leader’s remarks that “people have no doubts” over the prime minister’s intentions in the deal.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik also reiterated the party’s demands that the central government disclose the price of the fighter jets and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe the matter.

In an interview to a Marathi news channel, Pawar had said that he didn’t think that people have doubts about Modi’s intentions in the Rafale deal.

Pawar, a former Defence Minister, had also said that the Opposition’s demand to share technical details relating to the fighter jets “made no sense”. He, however, said there was no harm for the government to disclose prices of the aircraft.

Malik said Thursday that the media reports over Pawar’s statement are “confusing and misleading”.

“He (Pawar) has not made any statement defending Modi nor has he given any clean chit (in the Rafale deal matter),” the NCP leader said.

Malik said what Pawar meant was that people initially didn’t have doubts about the prime minister.

“What Pawar saheb said was that the way the matter is being hushed up (by the government) and attention of people from the issue is being diverted, the doubt is deepening,” Malik said.

In his interview, Pawar had also said that the way Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the government’s side led to confusion in the minds of people.

Quoting Pawar, Malik said the government should share information about escalation of the fighter jets price.

“The way the BJP had insisted on forming a JPC in the Bofors deal in the 1980s, it should now allow formation of such a committee in connection with the Rafale issue too,” Malik demanded.

His remarks came even as BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Sharad Pawar’s comments and asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to believe his own ally who has put “national interests above party politics”.

“I thank Sharad Pawar, a former Defence Minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth. Dear Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature,” Shah tweeted.

He tagged the Congress president in his tweet which also attached a news story on Pawar’s comments .

Meanwhile, Malik said NCP workers will observe a “maun vrat” (vow of silence) for three hours on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2.

The Congress has launched an offensive against the BJP government over the Rafale deal with France, alleging corruption and violation of rules.

The opposition party has accused the government of causing loss to the public exchequer and endangering national security by bypassing state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in favour of some businessman “friends” for awarding the offset contract.

The government as denied the charges.

Source: PTI

AAP leader Sanjay Singh sends legal notice to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over Rafale deal

Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh said Tuesday he had sent a legal notice to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal.

In the notice, the AAP leader demanded that the Rafale deal be scrapped and Dassault Reliance Aerospace be barred from handling or manufacturing Rafale fighter jets. He also sought a probe by a Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team (SIT).

“My client (Singh) is constrained to issue this legal notice in the subject matter (Rafale Deal) due to your covert actions and deeds with regard to the pricing and induction of strategic partner of a company with zero credentials much to the detriment to the security of the nation,” the notice, sent to Sitharaman by Singh’s lawyers, read.

He threatened to approach the court if the defence minister failed to heed to his demands in the next three days. A legal notice is a precursor to a case being filed in a court.

Commenting on the issue, Singh said, “The Rafale deal involves a ‘mahaghotala’ (mega scam) of Rs 36,000 crore. When I raised the issue in the Parliament, along with other UPA MPs, Union Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre gave contradictory replies.”

“Our allegations have been proved by French former president (Francois) Hollande’s statement. I also asked the government why the 78-year-old HAL was denied manufacturing of the planes, while a 12-day-old Reliance company was given (the contract). No reply has been given by the government,” Singh told reporters.

The Rafale controversy took a new turn last week after Hollande, who was the French president when the Rs 58,000-crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” on the selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government had proposed the name of Reliance as the offset partner for the aerospace giant.

Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.

Source/Credits: PTI

Rahul Gandhi claims more facts on Rafale deal will be revealed soon

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said more facts on the Rafale fighter deal and the Vijay Mallya row will be out soon as he used his home turf Tuesday to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is the beginning, he told reporters on the last day of the two-day trip to his Amethi Lok Sabha constituency.

He said there will be more on the Rafale deal, and on the people who were involved with the fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

The truth will be before you and you can judge, he said.

Earlier, the Congress chief took part in a meeting of the district vigilance and monitoring committee.

He said the deal for 36 French fighter aircraft signed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had harmed the interests of the youth, reminding them that a unit of the public sector HAL existed in Amethi as well.

The Congress has been attacking the Modi government over an offset agreement signed by Rafale manufacturer Dassault with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group.

The party has claimed that the deal would have gone to HAL under the earlier negotiations being carried out by its own government.

Reliance has rejected the charge that the current government was involved in any way in its commercial deal with the French company.

Source/Credits: PTI