The Congress is alleging a scam on the part of the Union government as defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has, in response to a question in Parliament, declared that the government cannot release the price of the Rafale aircraft bought by India. Perhaps unmindful of the clause in the agreement between the governments of India and France that doesn’t allow disclosure of prices, Sitharaman had, in November, said that her ministry would reveal the price details.

The story of the Rafale deal is also the story of several ills in the country’s defence procurement processes. The previous Congress-led government took years to negotiate the price, even as the Indian Air Force (IAF) required immediate replenishment. The current government did not fulfil the IAF’s requirement—only 36 aircraft were purchased against the initially planned 126—and never explained the reasoning except for dropping hints that Rafale could become a nuclear delivery platform. India has a long way to go in achieving efficiency and transparency simultaneously in defence procurements.

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