New Delhi, Trashing the Centre’s defence of the Rafale deal made before the Supreme Court, the Congress on Tuesday said the decision to buy the French jets was made in violation of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and the process was structured subsequently to legitimise it.
A day after the Modi government made public a redacted version of its affidavit to apex court detailing the decision to purchase 36 fighter jets from France’s Dassault, the Congress raised several questions over the procurement including prior approval from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
“The Centre’s affidavit conceals more than it reveals,” said Congress leader Manish Tewari in reference to the Modi government defending the deal and asserting that the purchase of the French fighter aircraft was in conformity with the process laid down in the DPP of 2013.
“Modi announced the new deal in April 2015 while the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal to buy 126 Rafales (during the UPA regime) was scrapped only in June 2015. So how did the government conclude that it needed to buy only 36 jets?
“Was the Indian Air Force on board to roll back the procurement from 126 to 36 aircraft? If the MMRCA collapsed as the government claims, then was a fresh process initiated for the new deal,” asked Tewari.
The Congress also rejected the Modi government’s justification to scrap the UPA deal which said the “inconclusive MMRCA process afforded India’s enemies time to induct modern aircraft and upgraded their older versions”, and thus posed a threat to the country’s defence.
Pointing out that neither service qualitative requirements (SQR) were initiated nor a technical evaluation of the deal was done, Tewari said the process to acquire 36 jets was in “clear violation” of the DPP and the Centre “needs to answer as to why the process was not followed”.
“This is a command performance rather than a process dovetailing into a decision. The decision to buy the jets made earlier and the process structured later to provide legitimacy to it,” said the former Union minister.
Targeting the Centre over the “exclusion” of defence aerospace major Hindustan Aerobatics Limited (HAL) from the deal, Tewari alleged the government amended the DPP 2013 to justify the inclusion of an Indian private company as an offset partner in the deal.