Rafale deal: Congress criticises BJP for ‘compromising’ on national security

New Delhi: In yet another scathing attack over the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre regarding the controversial Rafale deal, the Congress party on Saturday made fresh allegations regarding various aspects of the deal and claimed that the BJP has compromised with national security.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has now been caught in a web of its lies of its own making. They have caused a massive loss of Rs 41,000 crore to public exchequer by purchasing the 36 Rafale aircrafts with the same configuration at thrice the price i.e. Rs 526 crore per aircraft during the UPA to Rs 1,670 crore per aircraft during Modi government,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a press conference here.

“BJP has delayed the purchase of Rafale aircrafts to Indian Air Force (IAF) by signing a fresh deal with same ‘India specific enhancements’ as decided during the UPA regime, minus the all important ‘Transfer of Technology’ and award of Rs 30,000 crore ‘Offset Contract’ to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). (BJP has) compromised the national security by unilaterally purchasing only 36 aircrafts instead of 126 without consulting IAF,” he added.

Surjewala further stated that air staff qualitative requirements provided for 13 India-specific enhancements during the UPA government, were “radar-enhancements, helmet-mounted display, towed decoy system, low-band jammer, radio altimeter and ability to start and operate from high altitude airfields”.

Criticising Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for claiming that there was no contract for transfer of technology under the Rafale deal during the UPA rule, Surjewala said, “A release from PIB mentions transfer of technology, licensed production, and lifetime maintenance support for the aircraft. This RFP was issued in 2007.”

Surjewala further questioned the BJP as to why they called it an “emergency deal” when the first Rafale fighter jet will be delivered by September 2019 and rest would be delivered by September 2022.

“These aircrafts would not have India-specific enhancements and all these will get uploaded after 2022. With threats from Pakistan and China looming large, does it not compromise national security,” Surjewala asked.

The Rafale jets were chosen in 2012.Initially, India planned to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France, with 108 others to be assembled in the country by the state-run aerospace and defence company HAL.

The BJP-led government scrapped the UPA’s plan in 2015 and announced that it would buy 36 “ready-to-fly” Rafale jets instead of seeking a technology transfer from France’s Dassault Aviation and making the aircraft in India.