The Rafale deal was again in the news recently. The periodicity is often (in fact, always) linked to the political situation in the country. This time, the hue and cry was synchronized with the electoral campaign in Gujarat.
A political party alleged that the off the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft was done unilaterally “without following the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), without any intergovernmental agreement and in the absence of the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.”
This became an election issue in the Gujarat polls. A few weeks later, when the question came to Parliament, the government termed the accusations over the deal as ‘motivated’ and ‘baseless’. On December 20, in a written response, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that all the provisions of DPP had been followed before an inter-governmental agreement was signed on September 23, 2016; further, it had the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Two days earlier, the government had answered in the Rajya Sabha the issue of the pricing. Sitharaman affirmed that a better price was arrived at while finalising the deal and that there was no increase in its cost. She explained: “The cost of the 36 Rafale aircraft cannot be directly compared to the cost of the original MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) proposal as the deliverables are significantly different.”
She spoke of bet