The Defence Ministry on Friday dubbed as “factually inaccurate” a report in The Hindu claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to buy 36 Rafale jets instead of 126 as negotiated by the previous United Progressive Alliance government increased the price of each aircraft by 41%.
“The article is factually inaccurate. It does not adduce any new argument,” a statement from a ministry spokesperson said. “All the issues have been answered in detail by the government at various fora and most recently by the Raksha Mantri in an open debate in Parliament.”
The spokesperson added that the Supreme Court has gone through the details of “pricing and commercial advantage”, found nothing adverse in the deal, and had declined to order an investigation into it.
“The Comptroller and Auditor General has been given access to all the files related to Rafale deal,” said the official. “It is best to await the report of an authoritative agency like the CAG.”
Last month, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Centre had submitted details on the price of aircraft to the Comptroller and Auditor General and had provided all data and information in an affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court.
The ministry reiterated that it would not disclose the pricing details of the deal as the contract is covered under an Indo-French agreement of 2008. The report claimed that Modi’s announcement of the inter-governmental agreement pushed the price of each jet, with practically the same specifications as the deal agreed to by the previous government, up by 41.42%.
After the report, the Congress on Friday had reiterated the party’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation into the deal.
Responding to the Congress’s allegations, the BJP accused it of running a “malicious campaign” against the government. “The Congress’ game of running a malicious campaign on this issue and abandoning national interest for their own politics has been exposed,” said Union minister Smriti Irani.