[India], Feb 13 (ANI): Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday refused to accept the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the Rafale fighter deal, raising questions over various elements in it.
Addressing a press conference hours after the CAG report was tabled in Parliament, Gandhi, citing a media report, claimed that three members of the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) had given a "dissent note" which was not included in the report.
Earlier in the day, Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, the chairman of the INT in the 36 Rafale deal, told ANI that the three members of his team had raised certain objections which were "not dissent" as these were “suitably included and addressed” in his final report.
"I don't believe in the CAG report. As far as I am concerned, a CAG report that does not mention this document - the dissent that the negotiating team itself made on price and timing, I don't think it's worth the paper," Gandhi told the press conference.
Among other things, the CAG report states that 17.08 per cent of money was saved for the India-specific enhancements in the 36 Rafale plane deal.
"The Prime Minister, Defence Minister and the Finance Minister had earlier argued that the new deal was based on two things - price and the fact that Air Force needed planes quickly. The new deal that Narendra Modi signed gets India the aircraft later than the original deal. Even the CAG report states that Narendra Modi, Nirmala Sitharaman and Arun Jaitley lied to Parliament when they talked about 9 to 20 per cent," Rahul added.
Citing the note of the Defence Ministry's technical experts who were negotiating the Rafale deal, Rahul said that the "final price offered by the French government which is escalation based, is 55.6 per cent above the benchmark, which is for firm and fixed price. Considering the future escalation till the time of delivery, the gaps in the benchmark and the final price would further increase."
"The new deal that Narendra Modi signed gets India the aircraft later than the original deal," Rahul said.
Bhadauria, earlier in the day, told ANI that the observations by the three members were part of the deliberations of the INT and should not be viewed as a 'dissent note' as stated in a newspaper report today.
"These observations from three members were given to me as the INT chairman. This was not a dissent note. All the issues brought out were discussed earlier also since these points were brought up during discussions within INT and taken up in external negotiations,” Bhadauria said while commenting on the media report which suggested that three members had submitted an eight-page "dissent note".