In a big blow to India’s opposition parties led by Congress and a section of media, a report submitted in Parliament on Wednesday by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) says the Rafale fighter jets deal signed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with France is 2.9% cheaper than the one proposed by the previous Congress-led government.
The report says the present deal to procure 36 fighter jets is 17.08% cheaper than the 2007 offer considering the nation’s specific enhancements.
However, in terms of engineering support package and performance- based logistics, the deal is 6.5% more expensive, the report said.
The observations come as a big relief to the Modi-led government which had been facing corruption charges ahead of general elections.
Congress party president Rahul Gandhi has been calling Modi a ‘chor’ (thief) day in and day out without any substantial proof and with clear intention to make Rafale an election plank.
Welcoming the CAG report, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it proves truth ultimately prevails over falsehood.
Congress may have a different view. For them, the Supreme Court’s clean chit to the Modi government on the process followed in finalising the Rafale deal is wrong. The party has reservations on the CAG report too.
The party only believes in what the Gandhi dynasty says, Jaitley said, adding that the report also exposes the opposition’s ‘grand alliance of lies’ called the ‘mahajhootbandhan’.
But democracy will punish those who consistently lie to the nation, Jaitely said, implying that opposition parties will be dumped by voters in the forthcoming polls.
On the eve of the presentation of CAG report, a senior Congress member, Kapil Sibal, alleged “conflict of interest” by CAG, Rajiv Mehrishi, who was finance secretary when the Rafale deal was signed.
Hours before the CAG report was tabled in Parliament, Rahul cited a newspaper report to question Modi’s claim that the Rafale deal was cheaper than the one proposed by the Congress-led government and that the fighter jets will be delivered faster.
Rahul was later mocked after Congress protesters held paper planes outside the Parliament. Delivering his last speech in the House before the general elections, Modi said the temple of democracy saw paper planes flying amid a serious speech on Rafale deal by Jaitley.
Paper planes fly low while the honour of democracy and Parliament stand high, he said.