by Kalyan Ray

A European consortium that lost out to French Rafale fighter aircraft in an Indian military tender, twice approached the central government with a revised offer, but was denied a re-entry in the competition both times, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman disclosed in Parliament on Monday.

The "unsolicited offer" from EADS (representing Eurofighter) came twice - first on November 14, 2011, when A K Antony was the defence minister of the UPA government, and the second time on July 5, 2014, when the defence portfolio was held by Arun Jaitley weeks after the NDA government was sworn in.

Following the down selection of Dassault Aviation's Rafale fighters from six competing platforms in what is probably the world's most complicated open tender process by the UPA government, the European company didn't leave any stone unturned to gain a re-entry for its Typhoon fighter jet.

But the repeated attempts by the Eurofighter consortium - comprising Airbus Defence and Space that was formerly known as EADS (Germany and Spain), BAE Systems Military Air and Information (UK) and Leonardo (Italy) - didn't bear fruit.

The defence ministry on June 24, 2015, cancelled the tender to buy 126 medium multi-role fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

The cancellation occurred in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's April 2015 surprise announcement to buy 36 Rafale aircraft from France in a government-to-government deal.

In the recent weeks, while attacking the NDA government on the alleged scam in Rafale deal, the Congress repeatedly asked the government why it did not accept the offer from the other company (EADS) and purchased Rafale at a higher price.

"In the MMRCA proposal for 126 aircraft, on the basis of Staff Evaluation Report, Dassault Aviation and EADS were recommended for further processing and the commercial bids were opened on November 4, 2011. Dassault was determined as L1 (lowest bidder) based on total cost of acquisition," Nirmala said in her reply to the query from Rajya Sabha member M V Rajeev Gowda.

The cost of 36 Rafale aircraft, she argued, could not be directly compared to the cost of the original 126 MMRCA proposal as the deliverables were significantly different.