Times Now has accessed papers pertaining to the deal which raise some serious questions about the UPA government’s own conduct by possibly upending the Rafale deal and perhaps compromising India's security

New Delhi: The war of words between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janta Party over the Rafale deal has escalated in the last few days, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi even challenging the NDA government to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe what he calls the ‘Rafale scam.’ However, Times Now has accessed papers pertaining to the deal which raise some serious questions about the UPA government’s own conduct by possibly upending the Rafale deal. 

The note accessed by Times Now dates back to 2012 and has been signed by the then defence minister AK Antony as well as the defence secretary at that time, Shashi Kant Sharma. The note reveals that Antony wanted the selection of lowest bidder for the Rafale aircraft re-examined. The move reversed an 11-year process of determining the lowest bidder, Rafale, thereby effectively compromising India’s security. 

The note, dated June 27, 2012, reveals that Antony doubted references from the negotiation panel and the MPs. “After the Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) report has been finalised, the entire issue of approach and methodology adopted by the CNC to determine the L-1 (lowest bidder) vendor may be re-examined by MoD (Fin) and MoD to ascertain that it is reasonable, appropriate and as per laid down procedure,” read the note signed by AK Antony.

The note further read, “References received from Hon'ble Members of Parliament and from the three members of the CNC regarding the L-1 (lowest bidder) determination may also be re-examined in detail to remove any doubt whatsoever about the integrity of the procurement process before the case is progressed for the CFA (Competent Financial Authority) approval.”

Rafale Papers accessed by Times Now further revealed that it was the UPA that did not encourage HAL to reach a deal with Dassault over its commitment of providing India with the Rafale aircrafts. The documents revealed that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had conveyed to Dassault that production cost would exceed the deal. The HAL had also informed the company that it did not have the capability to carry out the Indian leg of production.

The Congress party has claimed that the country incurred a loss of Rs 41,000 crore after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inked a new deal with French aviation company Dassault for buying 36 Rafale aircraft. Congress claims that the aircraft have been bought at a much higher price than the one negotiated by the Congress-led UPA government. The party has also claimed that the new deal was inked with industrialist Anil Ambani's newly-floated company, instead of HAL, in a bid to favour the industrialist.

However, the BJP has vehemently denied all the charges. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has claimed that the price of fully weaponised Rafale in 2016 was 20 per cent cheaper than its 2007 price. "Rahul Gandhi has not read my question - the fully weaponised Rafale aircraft’s 2016 price is 20% cheaper than the 2007 offer. This is what the 2015 statement of the PM and the French President refers to as ‘on terms better than the 2007 offers'," Jaitley said in a tweet on Thursday.