Rafale deal: Congress meets CAG for second time

New Delhi: A delegation of Congress leaders on Thursday met the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi to discuss the alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal, for the second time in a month.

“We have brought to the CAG’s attention additional developments and revelations since the last time we had submitted the memorandum,” party leader Anand Sharma said.

Terming the Rafale deal the “biggest scam of the century”, Sharma said, “Parliament alone has the authority then to scrutinize the CAG report and to fix accountability for this biggest scam of the century i.e. Prime Minister (Narendra Modi’s) arbitrary decision to purchase 36 aircraft three times the cost which was negotiated or the price which was negotiated.”

Raking up the former French President Francois Hollande’s controversial Rafale comment over the offset deal, Congress said, “The former French President, who was privy to the details and development, Francois Hollande has made a statement that it was not French Government decision to keep Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) out or to select Reliance of Anil Ambani as the offset partner for Dassault but this was the Government of India and the French Government had no say in the matter. That confirms what we had said from the beginning that it was only the Prime Minister, he alone, who was privy to the fact that he is going to take a decision or inform the French President that the earlier contract that was negotiated, the agreement between the two Governments was not going to be taken forward.”

On September 19, a delegation of Congress leaders had handed over a detailed memorandum to Comptroller and Auditor General over the deal and urged him to expedite investigation in to the alleged multi-crore scam.

The Rafale jets were chosen during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tenure in 2012. Initially, India had 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.

However, in 2015, the Centre led by Prime Minister Modi scrapped the UPA’s plan 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. The deal was signed in the year 2016.

The Congress has been alleging that the NDA government has been procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the then UPA government.

The controversy took a new twist recently after former French President Hollande, with whom the deal was cleared, claimed that the Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence’s name as the offset partner for Dassault Aviation.