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Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government for being silent on the price at which the French Rafale aircraft were purchased, the Congress on Friday asked why they passed over an offer for Eurofighter Typhoon, which was 59 million eurow cheaper.
The party raised the issue after a news website The Print did the story, headlined "Before Rafale deal, Modi government passed over to buy Rs 453 crore/unit cheaper Eurofighter", and saying an offer to the top level of the Indian government "involved diverting deliveries of Eurofighter Typhoon jets from Britain, Italy and Germany to meet urgent Indian requirements".
"The silence of the government has been deafening to say the least. Why is the Prime Minister, his government, and Defence Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) reluctant to release the exact price at which the Rafale has been purchased?
"Why is the government reluctant to give a match stick on match stick comparison? What was the basic price that the UPA negotiated, what is the basic price which NDA government has negotiated," asked Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.
He further said according to a letter put out by the news website, one of the technically-shortlisted competitors of Rafale wrote to the then Indian Defence Minister on July 4, 2014, offering to sell their aircraft at 138 million euros.
"Now, nobody knows as to how much has the final negotiated price of the Rafale but if you go by the figures which are available in the public space, ostensibly it is 197 million euros. Now the government was offered an aircraft which was 59 million euros cheaper, which roughly at those prices, translates into Rs 444 crore," said Tewari.
Asked if this letter is correct, he asked if the contract to purchase the 126 aircraft had been terminated, and "new process had been commenced, was it not incumbent upon the government to evaluate this offer?"
He asked the government to clarify if the offer was evaluated, if so, and what were the reasons for rejection.
"We would like to know from the prime minister if there was an offer from a technically qualified bidder and that offer was ostensibly cheaper than the final contract price, what happened to that offer?
"Why is the government running away from answering these basic questions? The Defence Minister ten days ago tells the defence secretary that put out all the figures in the public domain. Why have the figures not been put out?" he asked.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)