Congress Plans Privilege Motion on Rafale, Says Audit Inevitable

New Delhi: 

The Congress today said it would bring a privilege motion against the government for misleading the country on the Rafale deal. There is no secrecy clause on the price details of the aircraft and the government has to reveal the price details about each aircraft, said senior party leader AK Anthony. The BJP has already filed a privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi after his blistering attack on the government in Lok Sabha over the issue last week.

The Congress says the government has brought 36 Rafale fighters at thrice the price negotiated by the UPA government for 126 aircraft and a detailed breakup of the commercial aspect of the deal will reveal this. The government, the Congress said, had settled for a higher price to favour a businessman and the defence minister is misleading country on the deal.

“They must reveal the price details of the aircraft and they must also tell us why a company was selected as offset partner who has no experience manufacturing aircraft,” Mr Antony said today, alleging the private player has benefited by crores.

“The government cannot hide the price details of the Rafale jets as the deal has to be scrutinised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as well as Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC),” said Mr Anthony, who was the defence minister in the Manmohan Singh government.

During the debate on the no-confidence motion against the government on Friday, Mr Gandhi contended that French President Emmanuel Macron had told him during their meeting in March that no agreement signed by the two countries stopped India from disclosing the aircraft’s pricing.

As the BJP ranks started raucous protests, France issued a statement saying there was a 2008 agreement on classified information “that could impact security and operational capabilities” of the defence equipment of India or France.

“These provisions naturally apply to the IGA (inter-governmental agreement) concluded on 23 September 2016 on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement, however, did not spell out if the purchase price of the fighter jets was also considered classified information under this pact.

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