Rafale jets — graveyard of Modi’s political career
IN order to understand the biggest scam of Indian history we have to go back to 28 Aug, 2007 when Indian Defence Ministry accepted proposals for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft fighter jets.
In January 2012, negotiations started with Dassault Aviation, the French company, for purchase of Rafale aircraft because their bid was the lowest.
The deal was to purchase 126 fighter jets, out of which 18 fighter jets were supposed to be manufactured in France, while remaining 108 were supposed to be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after transfer of technology by Dassault Aviation.
In March 2014 Dassault Aviation and HAL signed a “work share agreement” which stated that 70% of the work to manufacture the 108 aircraft in India, was to be taken by HAL and the rest 30% by Dassault Aviation.
In the meantime, government changed and Modi took charge. Interestingly, on 8 April 2015 Indian Foreign Secretary said that negotiations among Indian government, HAL and Dassault’s are still not over, while just after two days, Indian PM Narinder Modi went to France and suddenly on 10 April, 2015 a joint statement was issued by Indian and French governments that a new deal has been struck.
As per the new deal, 36 Rafale aircraft were to be purchased by the Indian government, all of which in fly-away off the shelf condition. After that, on 23 Sept 2016 an inter-governmental agreement was signed.
An exciting fact is that just before Modi’s visit to France, from 25 to 28 March 2015 two new companies Adani Defence Systems and Reliance defence limited were formed. In new Rafale deal there was an offset clause of 50% investment of total amount in India.
On 3 Oct 2016 Reliance group of Anil Ambani, a close aide of PM Modi, opened a joint venture with Dassault aviation with title “Dassault Reliance Aerospace ltd”.
In June 2017, “The Hindu” reported that from Rs. 30000 crore investment of Dassault in India, around Rs. 21000 Crore would be invested in this joint venture.
On 21 Sept, 2018 this controversy intensified when former French President Francis Holanday said that Modi’s government has chosen Anil Ambani’s Reliance ltd as an offset partner while it was not choice made by France.
The cost of original Rafale deal for 126 aircrafts was around Rs 54000 crore, an average cost of one Rafale was 526 Crore.
The new deal by Modi cost around Rs 59000 crore for only 36 fighter jets, which cost Rs 1638 Crore per Rafale.
The Congress and other Opposition parties criticized the deal severely as price increased by 3 times.
Egypt and Qatar also purchased Rafale aircraft at a much lower price then India. France officially issued price tag of Rafale aircraft in 2014 which was around Rs 600 crore.
four separate PILs were filed in Indian Supreme Court on Rafale deal. Indian judiciary is also influenced by Modi’s fascist government therefore on 5 Sep 2018, during hearing Indian SC demanded from Modi government to share details on Rafale pricing in sealed cover. On 12 Nov 2018 Modi government shared details with SC.
On 14 Dec 2018 Indian SC dismissed the case by saying that it cannot interfere in sensitive security issues.
There were various factual errors in judgement of SC like it was said that details were shared with Public Accounts Committee of Parliament but in reality nothing was shared with them.
Another twist came when the role of middleman Sushen Gupta emerged who was paid several million Euros as secret commissions by Dassault Aviation to influence the Rafale deal.
Basing on investigative reports published by Mediapart in April 2021, French anti-corruption NGO, Sherpa filed a complaint in Paris tribunal citing corruption, money laundering, influence peddling and unwarranted tax waivers fixed to the deal. Currently, independent formal inquiry has been launched on 14 June 2021 in France.
The prima facie corruption in the Rafale deal has been revealed, which will surely become the real graveyard of Modi’s political career.
The world’s largest democracy has been exposed. BJP has lost its moral ground to govern India.
Modi must present himself for accountability and a Joint Parliamentary Committee may probe into the Rafale deal.
International stature of India has been damaged due to financial scams. Modi has looted taxpayers money in form of kickbacks and commissions. The criminal silence of Modi’s government on Rafale deal indicates mal-intents.
— The writer is Islamabad-based veteran Journalist & PHD Media Studies fellow, an Academic Researcher & Media Analyst.