The imbroglio surrounding French war planes Rafale refused to die down on Wednesday when the Defence Ministry came out with a detailed response lambasting the UPA government that it took 10 years to close the deal, while the BJP government closed it in just one year.

“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,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The Ministry also said that in 2012 the then Defence Minister AK Antony exercised an “unprecedented personal” veto for the procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

Opposition Demand ‘Unrealistic’

As the government came under severe pressure from the opposition to disclose the exact details of the deal, the Centre sought refuge in the fact that the even the UPA government had expressed its inability to disclose the prices of various defence programs that were sanctioned during their time.

The government also said that the opposition’s demand to disclose the details and value of the contract for the Rafale aircraft signed in 2016 is “unrealistic.”

“The approximate acquisition cost of the Rafale aircraft has already been provided to the Parliament. Provision of exact item-wise cost and other information will reveal, inter alia, details regarding the various customizations and weapons systems specially designed to augment the effectiveness and lethality of the assets, impact our military preparedness and compromise our national security,” the Defence Ministry said.

The Ministry also added that such details would also come under the ambit of the security agreement signed in 2008.

“Thus, in not revealing the item-wise details of the contract, the Government is merely following in letter and spirit the confidentiality provisions of a bilateral India-France Agreement of 2008 signed by the previous government,” it said.

Deal Through IGA

The Defence Ministry also stressed on the fact that the procurement of the fighter jets was done through an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) as the Air Force was in dire need of these twin-engine fighters.

It said that the acquisition was done in in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure in all aspects including mandating, conducting and monitoring of negotiations and seeking all necessary approvals, including that of the Cabinet Committee on Security, before entering into the IGA.

The IGA is governed by the provisions of the Security Agreement signed between India and France signed in 2008. The IGA was signed on September 23, 2016 in which it was agreed that all the 36 jets will be bought off the shelf.

“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 Ministry said.