It seems that the misleading comments about the Rafale deal between India and France made by Rahul Gandhi in his speech during the no-confidence motion have continued to haunt him. Rebutting his speech, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had exposed how Rahul Gandhi was trying to mislead the Parliament and the entire nation by claiming that he had interacted with the French president Macron, and that the French president had denied to him that there was any secrecy clause between India and France that prohibited the Modi government from revealing the details of the Rafale deal. Rahul Gandhi hinted that Nirmala Sitharaman had lied about the Rafale deal under undue pressure from prime minister Modi. However, the defence minister quoted the French president from an interview and explained that Rahul Gandhi is making wild allegations as the French government’s position about the secrecy of the deal contradicted Rahul Gandhi’s claim. She also stated on the floor of the house, “This was an agreement signed between the two governments on January 25, 2008. Agreement of Secrecy was signed by then defence minister AK Antony.”
The Congress and its president therefore stood exposed and embarrassed. Now it has come to light that France is going to gift India 32 Jaguars free of cost as well as 2 Mirage-2000 fighters, which had proved their capability during the Kargil war. It seems that when Rahul Gandhi was questioning the prime minister as to why India was paying a “much higher price” for the Rafale aircraft than the price which had been negotiated during the UPA tenure, he failed to take into consideration how India was going to benefit with the 32 Jaguars and 2 Mirage-2000 fighters that India would be getting free of cost.
The 32 Jaguars that are going to come India’s way free of cost are going to provide much-needed spare parts to the Indian air force, and help in tackling shortages. Moreover, the two Mirage-2000 fighters which proved more than capable during the Kargil war are also going to go a long way in boosting India’s defence preparedness. It seems that when Rahul Gandhi was giving a misleading speech on the floor of the House and shouting at the top of his voice, he did not even take into consideration all these aspects of the Indo-French deal that is going to boost India’s air power and make it a force to reckon with.
The Rafale deal has seen a lot of twists and turns. Rafale had been chosen over other close competitors from Russia and the US in 2012. Initially, the plan was to buy 18 aircrafts off-the shelf from the French firm Dassault Aviation and 108 other planes were to be assembled by the public sector body Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in India. However, in 2015, prime minister Modi said that India will buy 36 Rafale aircrafts off-the shelf from a French aircraft builder. The deal was finalised in 2016 when India agreed to buy 36 ready-to fly Rafale jets.
In September 2016, India and France signed an agreement whereby India is required to pay Rs. 58,000 crore for 36 off-the shelf Rafale jets to France. Approximately 15 per cent of the payment is to be made in advance. India will also receive spare parts and the Meteor missile among other weapons as part of the deal. Congress and its entire ecosystem has been alleging that Modi government is buying the jets at an escalated cost. However, since it has now come to light that India is also going to get 32 valuable Jaguars and two Mirage-2000 fighters totally free of cost as part of the deal, it is clear that India does not stand to lose in this deal.