New Delhi: India's bid to purchase 100 fighter jets in a deal that is expected to cost over USD 15 billion has given Congress President Rahul Gandhi more teeth to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale fighter jets deal.
Rahul Gandhi on Saturday tweeted to say that the previous big-ticket deal to buy the French-made Rafale multirole jet fighters led to "Rs 40,000 crore loss to the exchequer".
India has sent a "request for information" (RFI) RFI to plane-makers in a deal that will translate into the world's largest order for fighter jets.
"RAFALE, 40,000 Cr. loss to exchequer was 'Sayonara' money to French, so PM could re-tender contract and favour friends," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Modi Scam Alert!— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 7, 2018
15 Billion $ fighter jet deal re-tendered. PM's friends race to tie up STRATEGIC partners.
RAFALE, 40,000 Cr. loss to exchequer was "Sayonara" money to French, so PM could re-tender contract and favour friends.https://t.co/X4oTNjkXTK
The RFI contains information about how the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to shortlist and finalise the fighter jets.
Plane-makers such as SAAB AB of Sweden, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. of the US, Dassault Aviation SA of France, MiG of Russia, and the European consortium Eurofighter are expected to compete for India's jet fighter deal.
Congress has been alleging that the Modi government finalised the Rafale deal with the French government at a price much higher than what the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had clinched to buy 126 medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA).
In July 2015, a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party BJP came to power in the Centre, former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had told the Rajya Sabha that the government had withdrawn the MMRCA deal.
Though the Congress has been asking the Centre to reveal the cost of the Rafale deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has declined to do so citing national security concerns.
India and France in March 2018 has signed an agreement on "exchange and reciprocal protection of classified or protected information" when French President Emmanuel Macron was in India. Both sides also agreed to create an annual defence dialogue at the ministerial level.
The agreement defines common security regulations applicable to any exchange of classified and protected information between the two countries.