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CAG compares old Rafale deal struck during UPA with Modi govt’s

The Comptroller and Auditor General will be tabling a report that looks at similar deals struck between 2012 and 2017 by IAF, as well as other offers that competed with Dassault’s Rafale offer.

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New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on capital acquisitions by the Indian Air Force (IAF) may compare the Rafale deal with offers made by other manufacturers whose products were being considered, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon made by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), HT learns.

The report will be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

Both Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets met the requirement of the Indian Air Force and were shortlisted from among six contenders.

The other contenders were the single engine US made F-16 and F-18 Super Hornets, the Swedish Gripen, and the Russian Su-35.

After the bids were opened, EADS offered a 20% discount on the deal for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The discount was offered in comparison to the price it originally quoted in 2008 and re-quoted in 2010.

But the Modi government scrapped an old deal and, in 2015, announced a government-to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale aircraft in flyaway condition.

An official familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the CAG report had compared the old deal struck by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the new one by the NDA.

HT learns the report runs into around 140 pages, of which 30 are entirely focused on the Rafale deal.

The report looks at 11 deals, five from the UPA era and six from the NDA’s time. All deals were signed between 2012 and 2017.

The official cited in the first instance said prices had been redacted only in the Rafale report while in case of the other 10 contracts, prices have not been redacted.

CAG officials said on condition of anonymity the report will not touch the controversial offset clause of the Rafale deal. The Rafale offset clause will be part of a separate report and it has been audited with all other recent offset deals of all the three defence services – the Air Force, Army and Navy. Indeed, even an entire list of offsets has not been submitted, HT learns.

The scrapping of the UPA deal to buy 126 aircraft has become controversial with opposition parties, led by the Congress, alleging that the new price is much higher than the old one, and that due process wasn’t followed. They also allege that the deal was changed to benefit Anil Ambani, through an offset deal his Reliance Defence signed with Dassault, the maker of Rafale. The government says it has managed to get the basic jet at a lower cost, and that all procedures were followed. Reliance Defence has denied any wrongdoing.

The issue was even the subject of a case in the Supreme Court, which did not find any substance in the allegations, although its ruling didn’t put an end to the controversy because of some factual errors in the judgement, which, the government claims, are on account of misinterpretation and, the Opposition claims, arise from the government misleading the court.

The government has filed an application to correct the mistakes.

Also read: CAG report on Rafale finalised, may be sent to Parliament in ‘2-3 days’

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