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Rahul Gandhi claims fall of PM Modi's 'pillars' to defend Rafale deal

Rahul Gandhi claims fall of PM Modi's 'pillars' to defend Rafale deal
Gandhi also dismissed as "eyewash" the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India's report on the controversial Rs 59,000 crore Rafale deal.

Referring to the findings of experts in the Indian negotiating team for the Rafale deal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said here on Wednesday the two major claims made by the government of cheaper deal and faster delivery of aircraft stood demolished. "The two pillars of the Narendra Modi government's defence for the aircraft deal, of a cheaper deal and faster delivery, stand demolished," said Gandhi.

Gandhi also dismissed as "eyewash" the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India's report on the controversial Rs 59,000 crore Rafale deal that the price of 36 jets, for which the NDA government signed an agreement in 2016, was 2.86 per cent lower than the rates negotiated by the UPA government for 126 aircraft.

"Experts who were part of the negotiating team have said Dassault Aviation (Rafale maker) has an order backlog of 83 aircraft and with a capacity of manufacturing only 11 aircraft per year, it will take eight years to clear the backlog. Thus, India will get its first Rafale much later than what was scheduled in the UPA deal. Not only that, but they have also pointed out the final price offered by the French is 55.6 per cent higher than the benchmark price fixed by the negotiating team," Gandhi said.

Dismissing the CAG report, Gandhi said even the national auditor has admitted that the cost of India-specific enhancements for 126 aircraft with the transfer of technology was cheaper than what is under the new deal without transfer of technology.

"Under the UPA deal, the India-specific enhancements along with the transfer of technology was 11.11 million euro per aircraft whereas under the Modi deal, the cost for the same, that too without transfer of technology, is 36.11 million euro per aircraft. This is where all the corruption has happened," alleged Gandhi. Reiterating his allegation of Modi's personal culpability in the deal, Gandhi said, "The Rafale issue has cut deep into the minds of the people, so much so that whenever someone says 'chowkidar,' the next words that follow are 'chor hai'."

"From corruption to procedural violation to divulging defence secret to his cronies, Modi has done all in the deal and one by one all the defences by his government and his ministers are getting demolished. "The fact that the first Rafale will come to India only after Dassault clears its backlog of 83 aircraft demolishes the Modi government's claims of sacrificing the UPA deal for the purpose of emergency purchase," Gandhi remarked.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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