Even after four year of being out of power, the scams of UPA government keep popping up. Despite Rahul Gandhi’s valiant efforts to label the Rafale deal as a scam, his allegations have not found traction among the public. Mainly because Rahul Gandhi and his minions in the media are leveling allegations without any substantial evidence to back up their claims and partly because Gandhi family and Congress party has been involved in so many scams that nobody trusts anything they say. Now with the CAG report, another scandal in the UPA government’s defense deal is coming out.
In 2009 UPA government made a deal with American defense manufacturer Boeing to purchase eight P-8I (Poseidon Eight India) aircraft for anti-submarine warfare requirements of Indian Navy. The rival bidder was Spanish aircraft manufacturer EADA CASA. Now In its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, CAG said “the Defense Ministry enhanced the financial bid of the Spanish aerospace firm to provide for a 20-year product support cost on the assumption that Boeing’s offer had a similar provision.” While Boeing later offered aircraft maintenance support in a separate contract, with additional cost. According to the CAG, if we include the maintenance support cost then the Spanish firm will come out as the lowest bidder so the contract should have been given to them.
Another irregularity mentioned by CAG in its report regarding the Boeing deal was in the offset contract part of the deal. The countries which spend a major chunk of their national budget of defense procurements ask for offset contracts to defense manufacturers. The offset obligations of the company could be somewhere between 30 to 100 percent of the deal value depending on the scale of the deal. The Defense procurement policy of that time had the provision for offset obligations worth 30 percent of deal value. So Boeing’s 641 million dollars offset liability which was to be fulfilled by August 2016. But the company has not fulfilled offset obligation till now. Now India could not take any actions against Boeing because the UPA government paid the offset credits on the mere placement of purchase orders which no government does. In comparison, Rafale’s contract signed under NDA government includes 50 percent offset clause.
The procurement of aircraft was being done to prepare the Indian Navy for anti-submarine warfare so along with the purchase of aircrafts the ammunition should also have been bought. But the contract for torpedoes and bombs as the ammunition is still not completed. It shows the lax attitude of UPA government towards the national security. It was only interested to make the deal to show up in the media for upcoming general election. If the government was serious about enabling India Navy then it must have purchased ammunition too because arms are of no use without ammunition. The report highlights the fact that the failure to procure long-range sonobuoys required to detect submarines also impacted the surveillance capability of the navy.
Rahul Gandhi has consistently attacked the government on the Rafale deal without any substantial facts or evidence. Now he should answer the parliament and the people of India on the Boeing scam for which substantial evidence are present in the CAG report. The audit for Rafale deal is yet to take place and the CAG will decide whether it was transparent and profitable or not. But the Boeing scam needs to be investigated and resolved first. Almost every defense analyst has made it clear that Rafale was among the most transparent and profitable deals made by Indian government. A greater transparency is needed in revealing the price and offset deals because they are the main bone of contention in the defense procurements.