Launching a scathing attack on the Modi Government over the Rafale deal, the Congress on Friday questioned if the Reliance was lying or Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman regarding an ‘offset contract’ between Reliance Defence Limited and French manufacturer Dassault Aviation.
“Reliance Defence Limited claims to have secured the ‘offset contract’ from ‘Dassault Aviation’ for Rs. 30,000 crore and a consequent ‘Lifecycle Cost Contract’ of Rs 1 Lakh crore Even Dassault Aviation in its Annual Report 2016-17 has claimed that ‘offset contract’ is being executed by ‘Reliance’. On the contrary, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has claimed in a PIB press release dated 07.02.2018 that the ‘offset contract has not been awarded’ by Dassault Aviation. Simple question is, who is lying – the Defence Minister or Reliance/Dassault Aviation?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said while addressing a press conference.
The Congress again raised the question of taking away the contract from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and giving it to a company which had no prior experience of manufacturing planes and above that, had a debt of Rs. 35,000 crore.
“‘Defence Offset Contract’ went to a private company, Reliance Defence Ltd., which had zero experience of manufacturing fighter aircrafts. Reliance Defence Ltd. had been constituted 12 days before (28th March, 2015) the announcement of purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts by the PM in France on 10th April, 2015. Reliance Defence Ltd. did not have the license to manufacture fighter aircrafts,” Surjewala said.
Another revelation was made by the Congress about another Reliance Company being opened 14 days after the announcement of the purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts.
“Intriguingly, Reliance Aerostructure Ltd. was given the license to manufacture fighter aircrafts by the Defence Ministry but it did not own any land or building on the date of the license i.e 22nd February, 2016. What is even more surprising is the fact that even Reliance Aerostructure Ltd. was incorporated on 24th April, 2015 i.e 14 days after the announcement of purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts by the PM in France on 10th April, 2015,” he said.
The Congress also raised some pertinent questions and demanded answers for the same:
(i) Can Reliance and Dassault Aviation sign an ‘offset contract’ of Rs.30,000 crore without the approval of the Defence Minister?
(ii) Has the ‘offset contract’ been countersigned by the ‘Acquisition Manager’ of Defence Ministry?
(iii) Why has the six monthly audits by DOMW not been conducted?
(iv) Has the ‘Acquisition Wing’ submitted an Annual Report to ‘Defence Acquisition Council’? If not, reasons thereof?
(v) Can a private corporate entity and supplier of the Defence equipment in the largest defence deal of the country be permitted to wholly gloss over the ‘Defence Offset Contract Guidelines/Instructions’?