R Madhavan, chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) waded into the Rafale controversy saying that the public sector owned plane maker was capable of producing the fighter jets if the order had been the originally envisaged 126 aircraft.
“If like earlier, 126 aircraft were to be made, some would have been made here and other would have been bought, but since they have now bought 36 aircraft, there’s no question of us making it” news agency ANI quoted him as saying, adding that to get quick delivery the government bought 36 aircraft separately. He further stated that here was no question of transfer of technology in an order limited to 36 aircraft.
The deal has been the centre of a controversy for quite a while now and the Congress and other opposition parties have alleged that the government Centre is buying the military aircraft from Dassault Aviation, French aircraft manufacturer, at a much higher rate than what was being negotiated by previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which planned to buy 126 aircraft.
The INC has been accusing the current government of ignoring the state-owned HAL while negotiating the agreement and suggested that some of the aircraft could have been manufactured in India through a transfer of technology.
Earlier, Former Chairperson of HAL, T Suvarna Raju said: “When HAL can build a 25-tonne Sukhoi-30, a fourth-generation fighter jet that forms the mainstay of the air force, from a raw material stage, then what are we talking about? We could have definitely done it (licence produced the Rafale jets).”
On Friday, Congress leader, Mohan Prakash alleged that Rafale aircraft jet deal is the “biggest defence scam.” Rafale fighter jet deal is India’s biggest defence scam and is an open and shut case of corruption. The Modi government is guilty of presenting falsehood to the Supreme Court and committing perjury as well as breaching the privilege of Parliament, Prakash told reporters in Ahmedabad.
Prakash further alleged: “The Modi government is shying away from constituting a JPC. Why? Because the one who had signed the deal will have to face the inquiry by the JPC.”
Although the deal has been criticised by the opposition, the Supreme Court on 14 December had dismissed petitions challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets, saying there was “no occasion to really doubt the decision-making process” warranting setting aside of the contract.
—India Legal Bureau