Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that the Rafale fighter jets deal with France had caused the exchequer a loss of Rs 36,000 crore, even as the Indian Army begged for money. Gandhi was referring to Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Sarath Chand telling a Parliamentary panel that the defence budget had “dashed” the Army’s hopes of modernisation.
He also alleged that Dassault Aviation, the French company that manufactured the aircraft, had called the “lie” of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman by releasing the price of the planes. Sitharaman had said that the cost of the jets could not be revealed under the contract.
Highlighting the difference between the prices of Rafale aircraft the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance and Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance governments had negotiated, the Congress president concluded that the country had lost Rs 36,000 crore, which was 10% of the defence budget.
On March 9, the Congress had claimed that the Rafale deal caused the country to lose Rs 12,632 crore. The Opposition party, quoting from Dassault Aviation’s annual report, said that the company had sold each jet to India for Rs 1,670.7 crore in 2016, while it had sold the same jets to Qatar and Egypt for Rs 1,319.8 crore in 2015.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had said that the government could have saved Rs 41,212 crore had it not cancelled the deal the UPA dispensation had signed for 126 Rafale jets.