Rafale Deal: The MoD noted that "unfounded allegations" are being made regarding the deal. "This would normally not have merited a response but for the serious damage being caused by the misleading statements, sought to be repeatedly perpetrated on a serious matter of national security," it said

The Ministry of Defence Wednesday described the Opposition demand to disclose the details and value of the Rafale contract as “unrealistic”. An approximate cost of the acquisition of the 36 Rafale jets has already been provided to the Parliament, the MoD said in a press release.

Citing an agreement signed with France in 2008, the MoD said the Government was merely following “in letter and spirit the confidentiality provisions” of a bilateral agreement signed by the UPA Government.

The MoD also noted that “unfounded allegations” are being made regarding the Rafale deal. “This would normally not have merited a response but for the serious damage being caused by the misleading statements, sought to be repeatedly perpetrated on a serious matter of national security,” it said.

The MoD reminded the Opposition that it was under the ten-year rule of the Congress government that the push to strengthen Indian Air Force fighter fleet “ran aground”.

On why the government did not negotiate with another competitor after the bidding process ended, the MoD said: “It seems to have been conveniently forgotten that the then Government itself had rejected that company’s unsolicited offer made days after closure of the bid process, declared Rafale (DA) as the L1 bidder and had commenced negotiations with it in February 2012.”

Reiterating the Centre’s stand that it had negotiated better terms under the new Rafale deal than the previous government, the MoD added: “As doubts are sought to be created about the 2016 contract for 36 aircraft, it is once again strongly reiterated that the deal secured by the Government is better in terms of capability, price, equipment, delivery, maintenance, training, etc., than that notionally negotiated by the then Government in a process it could not conclude in ten years. Moreover, the present Government completed these negotiations in just about one year.”

It stressed that the procurement of the 36 fighter jets from France was undertaken to meet the “urgent need” of the IAF and it was conducted strictly in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure.

On the issue of transfer of technology, the MoD stated: “It may also be noted that contrary to the impression sought, to be created by the Opposition, in the earlier proposal to procure Rafale, which ended in a stalemate, there was no provision for transfer of technology but only to manufacture under licence. The Government was unable to agree on the terms for even that in its negotiations with the vendor, resulting in the long-drawn exercise under the earlier Government ultimately turning futile.”

Reacting to the Congress allegation on why an Indian private company with zero experience in aviation was chosen as an offset partner to manufacture Rafale jets, the MoD said no offset partners has been selected so far.

“Further, no Indian Offset Partner for the 2016 deal for 36 Rafale Aircraft has been so far selected by the vendor (DA) because as per the applicable guidelines, DA is free to select the Indian Offset Partners and provide their details at the time of seeking offset credits, or one year prior to discharge of offset obligation,” it said.

On Tuesday, the Congress posed eight probing questions to the Prime Minister on the deal, while its party chief Rahul Gandhi alleged that Narendra Modi personally went to Paris and changed the fine print.

The statement came a day after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to divulge any details about the deal. Reacting to her statement, Gandhi had said:

“For the first time, the Defence Minister is saying that we will not share details of money spent on buying the aircraft…yeh kya tareeka hain….I spoke during the Gujarat polls that there is a scam (in the Rafale deal). Modi ji has personally got the deal done.

“Modi ji had personally gone to Paris. Personally the deal was changed. Entire India knows it. And the Defence Minister is saying she will not inform India, the Indian martyrs and their relatives about the money spent on buying those aircraft. What does this mean? This only means there is some scam,”