A senior officer of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), then Joint Secretary & Acquisition Manager (Air) and had been part of the Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC), had raised objections about the Rafale deal’s benchmark price.
According to The Indian Express, the Cabinet note required for approving the deal was delayed due to his objections and was signed only after the MoD official’s objections were “overruled” by another senior MoD official, Director General (Acquisition).
One of the main objections raised by JS & AM (Air) was over the benchmark price. He stated that that the benchmark price for the 36-Rafale deal was much higher than the benchmark price for the previous 126-Rafale proposal.
The officer also mentioned the fact that another manufacturer offered a discount on its bid price to the Indian government. He stated that EADS, Germany, the maker of Eurofighter, had offered a 20 per cent discount on its bid price to the Indian government in July 2014.
He argued that a similar discount should be offered in the case of the Rafale deal as a competitor was offering that discount.
The note also suggested that the IAF could get more Sukhoi aircrafts from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the same amount.
However, the objections stated in the note were over-ruled by DG (Acquisition).
Post this, the Rafale deal was signed between then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart in New Delhi in September, 2016.
Last week, former French President Hollande said it was the Indian Government that proposed the name of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence to be chosen as the offset partner of Dassault in the Rafale deal.
“We didn’t have a say in that. It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us,” French news website Mediapart.fr quoted Hollande as saying.
This contradicted the claim made by the Indian Government that it was a commercial decision and that neither French Government nor the Indian Government had any say in the same.
However, the Ministry of Defence stood by its claim and said, “The report referring to fmr French president Mr. Hollande’s statement that GOI insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision.”
The Congress has always alleged the Rafale deal to be nothing but a scam.
The party has also questioned handing over the contract to Reliance Defence, which owes Rs. 45,000 crore to banks and has no prior experience of manufacturing jets.