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India
15 Nov 2017

Congress alleges "huge scam" in $8.7bn Rafale deal

The Congress party has alleged that a "huge scam is brewing" in the deal to purchase 36 Dassault Rafale fighters for $8.7 billion.

Congress communication chief, Randeep Sujrewala has accused the Modi government of "promoting the interests of Prime Minister's crony capitalist friends," namely Reliance Defence Limited led by Anil Ambani.

The BJP has rubbished the allegations and questioned the Congress own scam-ridden past.

In context

Congress alleges "huge scam" in $8.7bn Rafale deal

On process

Congress says Modi unilaterally announced revised deal without due process

Sujrewala said that PM Narendra Modi visited France in April and announced the "deal for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in flyaway condition."

"This was done unilaterally without following the DPP, without any inter-governmental agreement and in the absence of India's Defense Minister," he said.

He said Anil Ambani was also in France during Modi's visit, which raises questions.

On HAL

Congress says Reliance got undue benefit while HAL lost out

Sujrewala said that during the UPA government, the original Rafale deal for 126 aircraft was conceptualized to be a joint venture between the fighter jet's maker Dassault Aviation, and Indian state-owned firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

However, the Modi government canceled the deal in 2015 only to help Reliance enter into a JV with Dassault after bypassing HAL's interests.

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Congress questions why Rafale's cost tripled under NDA deal

On cost

Congress questions why Rafale's cost tripled under NDA deal

"It is time for the PM to answer why the planes were bought at such an inflated cost?" Sujrewala said.

He said under the UPA negotiated price, each Rafale cost Rs. 526.1 crore. However, under the NDA, it costs Rs. 1,570 crore.

He questioned why the Reliance-Dassault JV wasn't cleared by the cabinet.

"Why was a transfer of technology for HAL not insisted?"

BJP response

BJP hits back, accuses Congress of diverting attention from scams

BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao said, "The Congress has made baseless allegations over Rafale deal to divert public attention and to cry political vendetta."

Rao said the Congress's top leadership, particularly the Gandhis, were scared about being questioned for the VVIP chopper scam.

He said the Modi government is renowned for its integrity while the Congress "is synonymous with sleaze, corruption and crony capitalism."

Reliance responds

Reliance rubbishes Congress' allegations as "baseless"

Reliance Defence Limited has responded to Congress's allegations, calling them "baseless" and "unfounded."

It said Anil Ambani was part of Modi's delegation to France and that he's a member of the Indo-French CEO Forum.

It said under government's FDI policy for the defense sector, the Union Cabinet or Cabinet Committee for Security's approval wasn't needed for the Reliance-Dassault JV.

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