Parliament panel raps Modi govt for not inking Rafale deal

NEW DELHI(PTI): A Parliamentary panel on Tuesday rapped the government for not inking the Rafale deal despite “considerable time” even as the government said the original contract for 126 planes could not be concluded because Dassault Aviation did not agree to certain tender clauses and its own bid.

Expressing its unhappiness, the Standing Committee on Defence, which submitted it report to the Lok Sabha, also asked the government to ensure that the IAF achieves it authorised strength of 42 squadrons as against 33 presently. “The Committee are unhappy to note that although a considerable time has elapsed, negotiations with France on Rafale could not be taken to a logical end,” the report said.

It was in April last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his trip to France, had announced the decision to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets off the shelf in view of the critical operational necessity for multi-role combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

However, a contract is still to be signed due to the hard price negotiations. While the cost of the 36 Rafale fighter jets, based on the the original Request For Proposal (RFP) price while taking into account the foreign exchange and others, comes to about Rs 65,000 crore. India is bargaining hard to bring down the price to about Rs 59,000 crore.

Talking about the earlier tender, the government told the committee that “contract negotiations in the procurement case could not be concluded because Dassault Aviation did not confirm agreement with certain terms of the RFP and its bid”.