The Congress on Wednesday alleged that the Narendra Modi government was “favouring” industrialist Gautam Adani’s defence company in a Rs 45,000-crore submarine project, and promoting “crony capitalist friends”. The deal has reportedly not been finalised yet.
“Adani Defence has ‘zero experience’ of making ships or submarines,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said at a press conference in Delhi along with Jaiveer Shergill. “It seeks to manufacture submarines based on a clause wherein its experience of setting up and running a power plant is counted.”
He asked why the government was favouring a private entity in violation of the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2016. The Modi government had also overruled the recommendations of the Indian Navy’s “Empowered Committee” that was set up for the project, Surjewala added.
“Let the prime minister and defence minister come forward and answer that ‘fairness’ not ‘foul play’, ‘nationalism’ not ‘crony capitalism’ will be the yardsticks for decision on India’s prestigious submarine project,” Surjewala added.
The Congress leader said the party was highlighting the matter in national interest. “We only want transparency and accountability,” he said. “We are not red-flagging it out of thin air”.
Surjewala said five companies – Larsen & Toubro Limited, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, Reliance Naval and Engineering Limited, Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Adani Defence, and Hindustan Shipyard Limited Joint Venture – had applied for the project.
Though according to the Defence Procurement Procedure a company with Credit ‘A’ rating should have been selected for the project, Adani’s company was given a credit rating categorisation of ‘BBB’ for a project valued 45 times higher, Surjewala claimed. The defence ministry had not yet explained the rationale behind its decision, he added.