Rafael Deal: Did the Prime Minister change the deal unilaterally without taking anyone into confidence?

Questions are being tightened on the Narendra Modi government regarding the alleged scam in the purchase of Rafale fighter aircraft. Now not only the opposition is questioning, but the rebel leaders of BJP and ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie have also asked some questions regarding the purchase of Rafale.

A joint press conference was organized by senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie at the Press Club in Delhi at four o’clock on Wednesday evening.

In the press conference, detailing the changes made in the deal in a systematic manner, clarification was sought from the government. The three speakers prominently raised the question of how Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was pulled out of the deal and included Anil Ambani’s company Reliance. Reliance has no experience of working in the aeronautics sector, on what basis was it made a partner in such a sensitive area.

Are There Debts?

Prashant Bhushan alleged that Reliance has an outstanding debt of Rs 8,000 crore on Indian banks in the defense sector.

Arun Shourie told the press that during the UPA era, the deal talks were increasing, the transfer of technology included under it. But according to the new deal, French company Duso is not obliged to share technology with India. Also, now the remaining Rafale aircraft will not be assembled in Hindustan Aeronautics.

However, during an interview to Doordarshan in 2015, the then Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that the cost of 126 aircraft would be around 90,000 crores. At the same time, the current Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to give the price of the deal, citing secrecy.

Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, while making alleged allegations of corruption on the Modi government, said that the aircraft which was 700 crores per aircraft in the UPA era, the current government has decided to buy for about 1600 crores per aircraft.

Arun Shourie said that senior officials of the Indian Air Force were also not aware of the changes in the Rafale Deal and this decision was taken by Prime Minister Modi alone. The Air Force was also not told why the proposed number of fighters was reduced from 126 to just 36.

French President Macron told India Today in an interview that the Government of India can tell the price and terms of the deal to the opposition. The question is why the Modi government praises the transparency, why does it want to avoid it?

After the press conference, journalists asked sharp questions to Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha. Questions were also raised about Yashwant Sinha’s son Jayant Sinha being part of the government. Regarding the father-son political role, Yashwant Sinha distanced himself from Jayant’s politics and said that Jayant is an adult and free to his political commitments. Watch the full video of the press conference here.