Notwithstanding the CAG findings, the Rafale deal signed by the Narendra Modi government would continue to be an issue in the coming Lok Sabha polls, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said on Wednesday.
Asked to comment on the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) findings which said that NDA’s Rafale deal was 2.86 per cent cheaper than UPA’s, he said that the government auditor’s report on the fighter jet acquisition was tabled only on the last day of the last session before the polls and that the MPs have not got the time to study it.
“The report will be examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the committee would question the CAG on what basis the conclusion was reached.
“But the crux of the matter is that rules and procedures have been violated in this deal. The delivery schedule for 36 jets is longer than for 126 jets,” he said.
Digvijaya Singh also said that the deal also snatched a morsel from the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
The Opposition had the reasons to be sceptical of CAG findings as several constitutional institutions such as the Central Bureau of Investigation had been “compromised like never before by this government in the last four-and-a-half years”, he added.
Similar sentiments were expressed by senior Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav who said that “prima facie the government was in the wrong”.
“Don’t you know what kind of findings have been given by CAG in the past and how many of them were proved wrong and how many of them were correct?” he said, adding that it was natural for the Bharatiya Janata Party to demand that the Rafale chapter should be closed now as the government was clearly in trouble on the deal.
Digvijaya Singh also said that the Congress would continue to raise the issue.
“We will continue to assert that ‘chowkidar chor hai’ (the watchman is the thief),” he said.
In “Capital Acquisition in the Indian Air Force” tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the CAG said that the agreement signed by the Modi government in 2016 for 36 jets was 2.86 per cent lower than the price negotiated by the UPA government for 126 jets.
It does not disclose the actual price of the 36 Rafale fighter jets contracted by the NDA government but examines the pricing.