Rahul Gandhi discusses fake news, climate change with Macron

New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi met French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday and said they discussed issues common to both democracies including fake news and looked forward to collaborating with him on climate change.

“Yesterday, I met Macron. We discussed a range of issues common to our liberal democracies, including fake news. I look forward to building on this meeting and to collaborating with him on global challenges such as Climate Change,” Gandhi tweeted attaching a picture with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Macron.

Asked if Gandhi raised the issue of Rafale deal with the French president, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “Congress Presidents always meet the visiting heads of states, for the Congress party has a long history of maintaining a relationship with visiting heads of the states in national interest.”

“As far as Rafale deal is concerned, it has six serious flaws which goes to the root of the matter and is pointing towards a brewing scam in procurement of aircraft and compromise of national security,” he added.

Surjewala pointed out: “First, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says I cannot disclose price for it is a matter of national security. Dassault Aviation, in its Annual Report of 2016 as also of 2017, says that they sold 36 Rafale aircraft for US$ 7.5 billion or Rs 1,670 crore per aircraft.

“However, they had sold the same aircraft 11 months earlier in 2015 to Egypt and Qatar at Rs 1,319 crore per aircraft. There is a clear-cut loss of Rs 12,632 crore to the state exchequer.

“The Rafale deal which was signed after an international bidding which opened finally on December 12, 2012, the UPA price as per information in public domain was about Rs 526 crore,” he added.

Surjewala asked: “Why did you (the government) buy Rs 526 crore aircraft for Rs 1,670 crore – over 300 per cent extra? The loss to exchequer if calculated notionally would be Rs 41,000 crore.

“Why did the Prime Minister bypass the Defence Procurement Procedure which looks at price discovery through contract negotiation committee and price negotiation committee and nobody in this country can violate that principle.

“Why did the Prime Minister bypass that Cabinet Committee on Security and not take its prior approval? Why did the Prime Minister deny to India transfer of technology for manufacture of twin-engine Rafale fighter aircraft?” he said.

Surjewala said these are questions to which the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister have adopted a complete silence. “I dare them to answer these in public.”