Rahul Gandhi disapproves CAG Rafale Report; calls it ‘Cover-up’ as BJP-Congress lock horns again

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday continued his attacks on Narendra Modi led Centre Government over Rafale Deal even after Centre tabled CAG Report before the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Hours after the Centre tabled CAG Report, Rahul Gandhi claimed that a purported dissent note by some officials on the aircraft deal was not mentioned in the CAG Report adding that that note demolished Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim of better pricing and faster delivery.

At a press conference, the Congress president dismissed the CAG report on the multi-billion-dollar pact as a “cover-up” that was not worth the papers it was written on.

Stepping up his attack on the government within hours of the much-awaited Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the deal being tabled in Parliament, the Congress chief accused the Modi government of “lying”.

Gandhi said even though he did not agree with the CAG’s submission that the deal was 2.86-per cent cheaper than the UPA-era offer, but it “calls the bluff” of Modi, then finance minister Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who “had lied to Parliament by stating that the price of the ‘new deal’ was 9-20 percent lower”.

Gandhi said Modi and his cabinet colleagues’ argument on why the new deal was required was based on two pillars — price and the fact that the air force needed the planes quickly — and said the “dissent note” by some of the Rafale deal negotiating team members had “demolished” their contention.

Rahul Gandhi said the note said French firm Dassault Aviation would take at least 10 years to complete its present backlog of the Rafale aircraft.

He also quoted the note as saying that the final price offered by the French government, which was escalation-based, was 55.6 percent above the benchmark price.

“There is only one reason the new deal has been carried out and that is to give (industrialist) Anil Ambani Rs 30,000 crore,” he said.

Severely critical of the CAG, he asked why the “dissent note” by the negotiating team officials was not part of the report.

“As far as I am concerned, a CAG report that does not mention this document, that does not mention the dissent the negotiating team itself made on price, on timing, I do not think it is worth the paper (it is written on),” he said.

“The CAG report is a cover-up. It ignores the cost of the missing bank guarantee & glosses over the suspect costs for ‘India Specific Enhancements’. But even the CAG couldn’t hide that it may take up to 10 yrs. for the 36 RAFALE jets to be delivered!” Rahul Gandhi also tweeted later.

Earlier in the Centre Government put forward that much awaited CAG report before the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the Budget Session after which General Elections are slated. CAG Report tabled by Centre stated that the deal negotiated by the NDA was cheaper than that of the UPA proposed deal. The CAG report titled ‘Capital Acquisition in Indian Force’ which was of over 140 pages has 32 pages specially dedicated to Rafale Deal.

The report looks at 11 deals from 2012-2102 (five from the UPA era and six from the NDA era). The price comparison of the other deals with the Rafale deal in percentage has been given in the report. However, there was no mention of pricing in the entire report.

Reacting on the Rahul Gandhi’s latest claims, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the UPA government of delaying the finalization of the aircraft’s purchase and claimed the delay happened because “there would be no deal without a deal” under the Congress-led dispensation.

He alleged that the Congress-led government had sought “commissions” in such transactions.

Taking a dig at Gandhi, he said it was a matter of serious discussion how much the Congress president understood the CAG report, pointing out that Gandhi on Tuesday used an e-mail “about helicopters” to say that it referred to the Rafale jets.

“It is very worrisome that he cannot differentiate between helicopters and Rafale fighter jets,” Prasad said.

Earlier in the day, NCP also raised the questions on the authenticity of the CAG Report.

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