The facts emerging about the Modi Government’s deal with the French company Dassault aviation to purchase Rafale fighter jets suggest a serious case of crony capitalism, causing a massive loss to the public exchequer.
The previous deal that the UPA Government was making involved buying 126 Rafale jets for Rs 54,000 crore – 18 of which would be in a ready-to-fly condition while the rest would be manufactured by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) using technology that Dassault would be obligated to transfer. This deal was cancelled, and the new deal signed by the Modi Government instead obtained 36 jets (in a ready-to-fly condition) at Rs 58,000 crore, minus the transfer technology. The Modi Government has no explanation for this grossly higher price paid for far lesser value. Moreover, Anil Ambani, owner of the Reliance Defence Limited (RDL) company, accompanied Prime Minister Modi on his France trip on which the Rafale Deal was made, and instead of HAL, it was the RDL which has secured a partnership with Dassault.
Why did the Modi Government cancel the older, more favourable deal in favour of a deal that proves more costly and less favourable? Why did the Modi Government’s deal do away with the clause requiring Dassault to transfer technology that would allow HAL to manufacture and maintain the Rafale jets? Did the new deal prioritise corporate interests of the Ambani-owned RDL over the country’s interests? These are all pressing questions which the Modi Government has refused to answer.
The Bofors scam in the late 1980s had brought down a Congress Government and rightly become a matter of national concern over corruption. The Rafale scam, which is of far greater proportions than Bofors was, demands an impartial probe.