Hindustan Aeronautics Limited chairman R Madhavan has put an end to the Rafale debate by contradicting Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi. While addressing the media on Friday, Mr Madhavan said:
"The HAL was capable when these talks were going on but the government for speed, since it was necessary to avail the aircraft, acted as quickly as possible. For speed, they bought 36 aircraft. There is no question of production for 36 aircraft, first, when it was 126 aircraft, in that contract we would have bought some and made some over here. Now since only 36 have been bought, there is no question of making them over here. So HAL wasn't in this so I don't want to comment on it".
The Congress had alleged that Narendra Modi government is buying the military aircraft from French company Dassault Aviation at a much higher price than what was being negotiated by the previous UPA government, which planned to procure 126 aircraft. The opposition had also accused the government of ignoring the state-owned HAL while negotiating the agreement, suggesting that some of the aircraft could have been manufactured by it through the transfer of technology.
Earlier in December, the apex court pronounced its verdict that had been reserved on November 14 on a batch of pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the deal. After the Supreme Court verdict dismissed all petitions seeking a court-monitored inquiry into the government-to-government deal between India and France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, Dassault Aviation came out with a statement.
"Dassault Aviation welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court of India rendered today dismissing all petitions filed on the Rafale Contract signed on 23rd September 2016 in the frame of an Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and France. Dassault Aviation takes note of the Supreme Court conclusions establishing the absence of any irregularities in the decision making process to purchase 36 Rafale, pricing of Rafale jets and selection of Indian offset partners including Anil Ambani owned Reliance by Dassault Division" - the statement reads.
The Centre has defended the multi-billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and opposed public disclosure of the pricing details.
India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment. The estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore.
The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.