Home Editor's picks Rahul Gandhi lies again, this time about the Modi government's affidavit on the Rafale deal

Rahul Gandhi lies again, this time about the Modi government’s affidavit on the Rafale deal

The affidavit filed by the government of India does not say IAF was not consulted and Reliance got ₹30000 crore in the deal to buy 36 Rafale jets, as Rahul Gandhi claims

Continuing with his policy of spreading lies about the Rafale deal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has gone ahead and has lied about a publicly available document. In a tweet posted today, he has said that Modi has accepted that he stole in the Rafale deal in the affidavit filed with the Supreme Court giving detail of decision-making process in the Rafale deal. He also wrote that govt has accepted in the affidavit that they changed the contract without consulting Indian Air Force and put ₹30,000 crore in the pocket of Ambani.

We are not sure whether the Congress President has read the affidavit or not, but we can tell that the affidavit does not mention anything that Rahul Gandhi has tweeted.

Allegation 1: Air Force was not consulted

There was no question of not consulting the air force. The Indian Air Force was completely involved in the entire bidding process for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) that India planned to buy during the UPA rule. Many people don’t realise that the deal to buy 36 Rafale jets is not different from the original deal to buy 126 jets. It is just an extension of the original deal. If it was a separate standalone deal, it had to start from the beginning.

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In 2007, UPA government invited bids to buy 126 fighter jets, as per the requirement of IAF. There were six bidders in the deal, and Dassault had emerged as the winner in 2012 after a long process. The Indian Air force was an integral part of this entire process. The UPA government did not select Rafale on its own, IAF did the evaluation of the contender planes and selected Rafale.

The original bid was to buy 18 Rafale planes directly from Dassault, while the rest 108 was to be made in India by HAL. Both the components of the deal were different. As there were differences over the planes that were to be made by HAL, the deal could not be finalised.

While the deal remained stalled for 3 years, the urgency of new jets for IAF was increasing. The number of fighter planes belonging to IAF was decreasing due to crashes and retirements. At the same time, India’s enemy nations were adding fighters at a rapid pace. Due to this reason, the Modi government decided to go ahead with the direct purchase of Rafale jets from Dassault as per the original deal, while dropping the HAL made part of the deal.

Only change the government made was double the size of this order from the original 18 jets to 36, which equals 2 squadrons for IAF. The IAF was waiting for 126 jets, which was not coming, now they are at least getting 36 jets. The IAF had already selected the Rafale jet, so there was no question of not consulting them in selecting the planes for buying.

The affidavit filed by the government says the Defence Procurement Policy of 2013 was followed in every step of the decision-making process. The 36 planes were ordered as per the process already completed during the earlier bid for 126 jets. The top decision-making body in DPP is the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). DAC includes the chief of staff of the Air Force, along with other two service chiefs and top bureaucrats in the Defence Ministry.

The affidavit also informs that the negotiation for the 36 jets was then done by an Indian Negotiation Team (INT). INT was headed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff. This means the air force was deeply involved in the discussion for the deal, contrary to Rahul Gandhi’s allegation. As informed by Dassault CEO, India secured a discount of 9% for the 36 jets compared to the price India was paying for the direct purchase of 18 jets in the original deal.

Allegation 2: Modi gave Anil Ambani ₹30,000 crore

Despite being refuted innumerable times, Rahul Gandhi still repeats the lie that Modi has given ₹30,000 to Anil Ambani. No, the affidavit filed by the government of India does not make any such statement. In fact, the affidavit says that there are 35 vendors in the deal with offset obligations. This includes two main vendors, Dassault and weaponry supplier MBDA, and their 21 and 12 tier-I sub-vendors respectively.

Portion of Indian government's affidavit on the Rafale deal
A portion of Indian government’s affidavit on the Rafale deal

The affidavit also clearly mentions that the share of Dassault Aviation in total offset is 19.9% only. This means, even if entire offset obligation of Dassault goes to Reliance, that would be less than ₹6,000 crore, not ₹30,000 crore. But Dassault has not given its entire business to Reliance, it has set up a 49:51 joint venture with Reliance, where the total investment will be ₹800 crore, 49% of which will be invested by Dassault and rest 51% to be put by Reliance.

This means Reliance is not getting any money in their pocket from Dassault. Dassault will be investing around ₹400 crore in the JV, and Reliance will have to invest a similar amount. The allegation of Anil Ambani getting ₹30,000 crore from Dassault has no base at all. Dassault CEO Eric Trappier has also added that the share of Dassault Reliance JV in its offset obligation will be 10% only.

It is time Rahul Gandhi stops making such wild allegations and start playing the role of a responsible opposition leader.

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