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Something 'fishy' about Rafale deal, alleges Rahul Gandhi, questions PM Narendra Modi's silence

Rahul Gandhi on Thursday slammed the Narendra Modi govt over 'fishy' Rafale fighter jet deal.

Something 'fishy' about Rafale deal, alleges Rahul Gandhi, questions PM Narendra Modi's silence
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New Delhi: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the BJP government over the Rafale aircraft deal and questioned Prime Minister's silence on the issue. 

The Congress president said that the Prime Minister was not answering his questions and it suggested that there was something "fishy" about the deal.

Referring to PM Modi's speeches in Parliament yesterday, Rahul told reporters that it was clear that the Prime Minister was not interested in answering the "fundamental questions" on the Rafale deal.

''Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had first announced that she would inform the nation about the cost of purchasing Rafale aircraft but was now saying she could not do so as it was a state secret,'' Rahul said.

"Which of her two statements are correct," he asked.

Rahul Gandhi continued by saying that in the recent past he had posed three questions to PM Modi but got no answers.

''Those included the aircraft's cost and "handing over" the deal to a businessman after "snatching" it from a public undertaking,'' he added.

''However, there was no reply,'' the Congress leader shamed.

"There can be only one answer and it is that there is something fishy about this," he said.

Rahul Gandhi's party has alleged that there are irregularities in the deal for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets off-shelf from France, claiming that they were being bought at a price higher than negotiated in the previous multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal under which 126 fighter jets were to be bought, and included a number of fighters being assembled in India.

Replying to the Congress charge, Nirmala Sitharaman has in past said that the allegations are motivated and baseless, and the price that the Narendra Modi led government has finalised is lesser than the earlier deal.

Congress and some other Opposition parties have also sought a disclosure of price being paid in the present deal.

In order to replace the existing MiG-21 aircraft, a case to procure 126 Mirage-2000 aircraft was initiated in the year 2000, which was later converted to a procurement of 126 MMRCAs. 

A Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued in 2007 to which six vendors had responded. 

On completion of Field Evaluation Trials, only two out of the six vendors were found to be fully compliant. 

Commercial proposals of both vendors EADS and Dassault Aviation were opened and negotiations were commenced with Dassault as the L1 vendor in November 2011.

The RFP was formally withdrawn on June 24, 2015.

India and France signed the inter-government agreement for buying 36 Rafale fighters, off the shelf, on September 23, 2016, following long negotiations on the deal, agreed upon during Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s visit to France in April 2015.

(With PTI inputs)