Govt floated fresh tenders to buy 100 combat aircraft: Congress

Nashik: Amid the Rafale deal row, senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan has claimed that the government last month floated international tenders to buy around 100 medium multi-role combat aircraft. Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Limited signed an agreement with Swedish defence giant Saab for the supply of the aircraft, Chavan claimed.

Speaking at a seminar titled ‘Is Modi really guilty in Rafale deal?’, organised by an NGO here on Tuesday, the former Maharashtra chief minister said, “(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, in order to benefit his friends (industrialists) Anil Ambani and Gautam Adani, has started playing with the defence ministry.” “After Reliance Defence, for the Rafale deal, Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Limited has been formed and it has signed an agreement with Sweden’s Saab group for around 100 combat aircraft,” Chavan said.

He added that the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was to purchase 126 Rafale aircraft, but the Modi government signed an agreement to purchase 36 Rafale planes by paying Rs 1,000 crore more per aircraft.

“Considering the need for more Rafale fighter aircraft for the country, why only 36 aircraft are being purchased?” Chavan asked and sought a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the deal.

In 2000, the UPA government invited bids from various countries and then decided to purchase 126 Rafale aircraft — 18 to be manufactured in France and the remaining 108 to be manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) — the Congress leader said.

“However, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in 2015, a new agreement for the purchase of 36 aircraft, costing more, was signed,” he added.

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group has served legal notices to the spokespersons and leaders of the Congress party, asking them to cease and desist from levelling allegations against the Rafale deal.

Chavan later told mediapersons that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had “misinterpreted” former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan’s letter on non-performing assets (NPAs) to the Parliamentary Estimates Committee and said during the UPA regime, the NPAs amounted to only Rs 4 lakh crore, which went up to Rs 11 lakh crore during the present National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

Blaming the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena over the fuel price hike in Maharashtra, Chavan said the latter had no right to speak on the issue.

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