January 2, 2019
Saugata Roy speaks during a discussion on Rafale Deal under Rule 193
Madam, I rise to speak in the discussion on the Rafale Deal. Before I proceed any further I think it is pathetic that the NDA which has got 300 members in this Lok Sabha had to borrow a member from Rajya Sabha to speak on their behalf. And not only that. That member from Rajya Sabha is not even the Defence Minister. He claims to be an expert on Defence Ministry. But may I mention that Mr Jaitley has lost his touch. He quoted Ian Fleming, who had said, “the first time it is happenstance, the second time it is coincidence and the third time it is enemy action”. Mr Jaitley said something else. You forgot about enemy action altogether. Your memory is failing you, Mr Jaitley. The third time it is enemy action.
Also, I want to remind him about some French pronunciation. ‘H O L L A N D E’ is not ‘Holland’, it is ‘Olande’, you called him Holland as if the country Holland. That was also totally a wrong pronunciation.
Now coming to the subject, our party Trinamool and our leader Mamata Banerjee, believes in transparency and probity in all defence purchase. So, on behalf of our party, I shall not indulge in tu tu main main, which Jaitley Ji is indulging in – tumhare samay yeh hua tha. We are asking about today, about the Rafale Aircraft. We do not want to hear what happened in the past.
The Government purchased 36 Rafale aircraft for a cost of Rs 59,000 crores. <interruptions>
BJP muscle men have pounced on me but they can not <interruptions> because the actual battle is like Meghnad. You know about Meghnad in Ramayana, who fought behind the clouds. Now the actual Meghnad is Narendra Modi. He is hiding behind Arun Jaitley with the clouds. He does not have the courage. The Prime Minister should have the courage to face this Parliament.
My question is simple that needs to be answered. And I think ultimately to find the answer we have to appoint a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe into the whole thing.
Madam, please listen to me… why I want this.
1. The price negotiated at the time of UPA was Rs 526 crore. Why have 36 aircrafts been bought for Rs 1,671 crore each?
2. It was negotiated that 126 aircrafts, that is seven squad drones, would be purchased for the Indian Air Force. Out of them, 18 will be in flyaway condition; rest 108 would be manufactured in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Now, why from 18 you have increased the flyaway purchased to 126? And why instead of HAL we have had one private company acting as an offset partner?
Earlier Mr Jaitley said how concerned they are about the immediacy of the Air Force needing the Rafale. There is no doubt that Rafale is a good aircraft, it was selected by the earlier Government, it is nuclear capable, it has jamming techniques and Dassault alone doesn’t make it. Safran makes the engines, the Thales makes the electronic and rudder system. So it is a modern aircraft.
But if there was so much hurry, why did Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister decide on the announcement of the purchase of Rafale on April 11, 2015? He had not taken the Defence Minister on that trip. Alone… Have you heard a Prime Minister announcing purchase of aircrafts? If there was such hurry then why did the former Defence Minister sign the agreement? He signed the agreement on September 23, 2016. So they were in a hurry but it took them a year and four months to finalise a deal already announced by the Prime Minister. So the hurry was not there Madam, it was something else.
There was a new company Madam which was incorporated in March 28, 2015, just a few days before the Prime Minister went to France. He was accompanied by ‘Chota Ambani’. I am not talking about his name, Like we refer to Nirav Modi as ‘Chota Modi’, we say that this is ‘Chota Ambani’ was accompanying him. ‘Chota Ambani’ incorporated a company, Reliance Aerospace Defence Company. That was registered only 12 days before the Prime Minister went to France. Mr Jaitley has not explained why a Johnny come lately, a newcomer in the aviation field was given the offset contract in place of the 70 year old, trusted, public sector owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which employs thousands of people in this country. Is it not a total betrayal of the national interests in the interest of somebody who is doubtful?
I want to know from Mr Jaitley, he has been a corporate lawyer, he would know what the condition of the Reliance Company is. Reliance has total debt of Rs 8,000 crore and losses of Rs 1,300 core. (They have a total debt of Rs 45,000 crore) Now you are bringing in that company as an offset partner in place of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited? There are other 72 offset partners, I’m not going to question them; I’m questioning this Reliance Aerospace Defence company.
Madam, do you know that Maharashtra Government, run by BJP, the Chief Minister Mr Fadnavis allotted land only in August 2017 and Union Minister, Mr Gadkari went to lay the Foundation Stone in 2017. They have not yet started fencing the whole area and they became the offset partner. So if somebody asks me where is the money trail for Rafale purchase I say that the money trail is through the Reliance, ‘Chota Ambani’ bhai. Wahan se money trail jata hai . So, don’t you think, Madam – you have been an MP for so many times, you are concerned about national security and promoting national affairs – kyun iska jaanch nahi hoga, yeh humein batayiyein.
I’m not reacting to the reported conversation by the then Defence Minister who now lives in Goa. He said that sab “Rafale ka kagaj mere bedroom mein hain”. Now won’t there be any enquiry? Why this man was suddenly shifted from the Defence Ministry to Goa and why he is saying now in his very sick state that he is in possession of the papers relating to Rafale?
Humara tayyari toh kafi hai lekin BJP ka musclemen chillayenge toh hum tayyiar hoke karenge kya? Usko jawab dega? BJP ke musclemaen ko?
Madam, now let me formulate my questions.
Firstly, can sovereign guarantee replace bank guarantee? In the Rafale deal French ensured that the mechanism as per which it’s Government could act as guarantor so that the departure from regular commercial purchase where the willing companies are required by law to furnish guarantees from an international bank that can be encashed by the purchaser in case deliveries are not made in time after payments have been made. Yes, there was significant discomfort in the Indian side when this was being discussed as the French assurances were not what they thought to be, according to a source.
Secondly, among the seven reasons heightened for the withdrawal of the UPA version of the deal in June 2015, was Dassault Aviation’s failure to furnish performance and warranty bonds and its refusal to act as a single point of responsibility. It is unclear that how the Government resolved the issue of absence of bank guarantee for such a big purchase and given clear reluctance among the bureaucracy. Moreover, it is not clear whether adequate safeguards have been built in the contract to ensure that India can penalise the manufacturer for violations, such as delivery delays.
Why was the cheaper option rejected? The Government’s records show that the key reason for scrapping the UPA’s Rafale deal was that the French aircraft – though initially thought to be cheaper – was turning out to be more expensive than the ‘Eurofighter Typhoon’ after detailed commercial discussions. So, it is unclear, why the Government selected the Rafale jets for purchase. Indian Air Force selected the Rafale jets after an elaborate process during UPA regime but it was not the only aircraft to be selected. The Air Force had also found the ‘Eurofighter’ built by the BAES has complied with the required <interruptions>
Madam, when the NDA Government decided to buy the 36 jets it did not consider the Eurofighter, which was cheaper as per Government’s analysis, as per the terms of the previous deal. In July 2014, Germany had even made an offer to NDA Government to further reduce the price of Eurofighter by 20%. (source- Economic Times dated 1.1.2019). The Germans had promised to divert the deliveries of ‘Eurofighter Typhoon’ from Britain, Italy and Germany to meet India’s need on an urgent basis.
Madam, so four questions remain unanswered:
Why Rs 1670 crore instead of Rs 526 crore?
Why 36 jets in place of 126 jets?
Why Reliance Aerospace Defence was chosen as an offset partner when as a company it is totally in the red?
Fourthly, why not engage in a fresh discussion with the Eurofighter?
Madam, the money trail goes up to Mumbai and Nagpur where the Reliance Aerospace Defence Company is situated. That’s where the money will come from in the coming elections. In the meantime Meghnad will shoot from behind the clouds, leaving the Rakshasa Sena here to defend him.
That’s why, I demand a JPC. Thank You, Madam.