The Congress led by Rahul Gandhi and the entire left-liberal ecosystem made all possible attempts to corner the government in connection with the Rafale deal. A number of lies and concoctions were generated by the news traders and the concerned political outfits in order to malign the Modi government. Rahul Gandhi was at the forefront of this relentless campaign to mislead the nation with regard to the Rafale deal. One by one all these lies were exposed and the malice behind the propaganda against the Rafale deal became amply clear. After the apex court dismissed all the petitions praying for a court-monitored probe into allegations of wrongdoings in the Rafale deal, the lies being propagated against the deal were out in the open.
Now, in a major development that makes it clear yet again that the ridiculous allegations against the Rafale deal were nothing but a mere figment of imagination, the CAG report on the deal has been tabled before the Parliament. The report has cleared the air around the deal and this should settle the Rafale deal for all practical purposes.
The biggest takeaway is that as per the CAG report, the IGA (Inter-governmental Agreement) turned out to be 2.86% cheaper than the price at which the deal would have been finalised as per the old contract. Therefore, the insinuation that the NDA government bought the aircrafts at a price higher than the one at which the UPA government was going to buy them stands negated. It is equally important to mention here that according to the report, India specific enhancements in the 36 aircrafts in the Rafale deal entered into by the Modi government turned out to be 17.08% cheaper than the price that would have been finalised in accordance with the deal that the UPA government had entered into.
The CAG report also pointed out that Benchmark Committee price in the original Request for Propoal (RFP) was worked out in a rather unrealistic manner. The benchmark cost was 47 per cent lower than the lowest bid (L1 bid). Therefore, the benchmark price in the acquisition was fixed unrealistically. The CAG report also pointed out the issue with manufacture of 108 Rafale aircrafts by HAL in India. As per the report, the HAL required 2.7 times more man hours than that suggested by Dassault. It led to a deadlock in negotiations. It also stated that the Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) realised that after applying a factor of 2.7 to the manpower cost of Dassault, it was no longer the lowest bidder (L-1 vendor). Another issue arose with the problem of performance guarantee. HAL as the production agency was responsible for the quality of the 108 Rafale aircrafts. The CNC insisted that Dassault takes full responsibility for the quality and performance of all 126 aircrafts as required under the RFP. However, Dassault refused to take guarantee for the planes that were supposed to be manufactured in India by HAL.
The CAG report also pointed out that one major benefit of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) is that the buying government gets entitled to receive the same benefits and protections as the vendor gives to its own government. Thus, in the case of the Rafale deal, Dassault would provide the Indian government with all the benefits that have already been extended to the French government. The cost of such procurements is considered to be lower because the equipment being already used by the government selling the product and the Research & Development cost and other such fixed costs would have already been recovered by the seller.
Another advantage with the new Rafale deal is that there would be faster delivery of the aircrafts in the present IGA as compared to the delivery period under the UPA era contract. The delivery would be faster by a month in the present IGA as compared to the time period under the old contract. As per the 2007 offer, India specific enhancements were to be made to the aircrafts after they were delivered in India and it would have taken a period of 72 months. As compared to this, the same would be ready in a period of 71 months under the current IGA.
The CAG report has cleared the air around the Rafale deal. Rahul Gandhi led-Congress had tried its best to corner the Modi government over the Rafale deal. However, it is clear that nothing substantial has emerged out of the accusations that were leveled against the Moid government by Rahul Gandhi and his sycophants. The Supreme Court had already dismissed all the petitions praying for a court-monitored probe. And now, even the CAG report has made it clear that the current IGA is better than the old contract. The issue was debated intensely in the Parliament as well. The deal has been discussed time and again and there is nothing suspicious against the incumbent government. The issue has been settled completely and conclusively. One expects that after all sense will prevail and the Congress will stop unnecessarily creating an issue about the Rafale deal. However, if it continues to cry foul, it will become further clear that the Congress has nothing substantial to point out and its allegations are based on conjectures and surmises.