New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley has dismissed opposition Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s accusations that the Rafale fighter jet deal with France has resulted in an advantage between ₹ 38,000 crore and ₹ 130,000 crore for an Indian business house as a falsehood.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Jaitely noted that Gandhi has also repeatedly pointed out that the aircraft to be manufactured by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd is now being manufactured by a private business house with no experience in the sector.
Defending the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and its government-to-government deal struck with France in 2015, Jaitely said that the “Rafale aircraft and its weaponry are not being manufactured in India at all, neither by Dassault or by any other private company".
“All 36 aircraft and their weapons in a fully flyable and usable form will arrive in India. After the supplies begin, Dassault has to make purchases in India for 50% of the contract value. This is as per the UPA (United Progressive Alliance government)’s policy to promote make in India. If the total deal is for ₹ 58,000 Crore, 50% of that amounts to ₹ 29,000 Crore. These supplies to Dassault are to be made by over 120 offset suppliers and of which the business house named is one of them. Dassault has said that only 3% of offset may come to that business house which is less than ₹ 1,000 crore," Jaitely said.
The 2015 Rafale deal deal struck during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France has attracted controversy in recent weeks due to the Congress allegations that the pact the UPA had sealed with Dassault in 2012 for 18 Rafale jets to be bought in a flyaway condition and another 108 to be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics was at a much cheaper rate than the deal negotiated by the NDA.
Rahul Gandhi has also said that one private business house had gained unfairly from the deal in offset contracts. It didn’t help that former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying recently that the French side had no role in picking the Indian business offset partner, indicating that the company was presented to the French side as a fait accompli. Dassault Aviation later said that it had picked the company on its own but that has not stemmed opposition criticism.