Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday dismissed the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the Rafale aircraft deal, saying it did not include the dissent note written by three senior defence ministry officials. Gandhi said he did not think the report was worth the paper it was written on, according to PTI.
The CAG report, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, said the deal signed in 2016 by the Narendra Modi government to buy 36 fighter jets from France was 2.86% cheaper than the offer made to the previous government in 2007.
Gandhi said the CAG report showed that Modi had misled the Parliament, reported Hindustan Times. “The CAG report says that the 2016 deal is 2.86% cheaper,” the Congress chief said at a press meet in Delhi. “They had claimed it to be over 9% cheaper. They made the statement in Parliament...The CAG report shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Raksha Mantri [Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman] lied in Parliament.”
Gandhi said the government’s argument on signing the new Rafale deal was that the Indian Air Force needed the fighter aircraft urgently. “But the [dissent] note by a defence ministry official says that under Rafale deal signed by the Narendra Modi government, the last aircraft will come in 10 years,” Gandhi said. “The argument given by the prime minister for the new Rafale deal was price and faster delivery. This has been demolished,” he said, according to PTI.
Gandhi said the dissent note of the defence ministry officials put the benchmark price of the Rafale aircraft under the new deal at 55.6% higher than the original deal. Gandhi said the Rs 30,000 crore deal was only meant to benefit businessman Anil Ambani.
Gandhi also questioned why the Centre did not agree to a Joint Parliamentary Committee inquiry if there was no scam. “Why is BJP fearing JPC?” he asked.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala called the CAG report an “eyewash” as it does not mention the price of the fighter aircraft. “Even the ‘manufactured figure’ of 2.86% cheaper by CAG is horribly fake and false,” he said in a statement. Surjewala termed it a “Chowkidar Auditor General” in reference to Modi’s chowkidar remark.
He said the CAG report admitted to the failure in delivery of the 36 aircraft urgently. “The entire purpose of Emergency Purchase of Rafale aircraft by sacrificing the UPA deal, thus, stands demolished comprising India’s national security,” Surjewala said.
Surjewala said the CAG report also admitted to “cost escalation” under the Modi government’s deal unlike the “firm and fixed price” deal of the UPA, and the “additional cost and price increase” under multiple heads in the deal to purchase 36 aircraft.