Price of Rafale aircraft a national secret, says Rahul sarcastically

New Delhi: Continuing his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took a dig at him, saying the price of the Rafale aircraft was a “national secret” as the government was not even willing to reveal it in the Supreme Court.

“The PM knows. Anil Ambani knows. Hollande and Macron know. Every journalist now knows. Defence Ministry babus know. All of Dassault knows. All Dassault’s competitors know. But the price of the Rafale is a national secret that cannot be revealed even to the Supreme Court,” Gandhi tweeted sarcastically.

His attack comes in the wake of a media report that claimed the price per Rafale aircraft that the government agreed in 2016 with French company Dassault for 36 fighters is 40 per cent higher than what Dassault had offered in 2012, in a global tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

Quoting two senior defence ministry sources, who were directly involved in contract negotiations with Dassault from 2012 onwards, the report by Ajai Shukla in Business Standard claimed that Dassault’s winning bid amounted to euro 19.5 billion for 126 Rafale fighters. This amounted to euro 155 million per aircraft, while 36 Rafale aircraft were contracted at euro 7.85 billion which is equivalent to euro 217 million per aircraft — 40 per cent higher than the earlier contract.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday had sought more information from the government on the Rafale jet deal, including details of its pricing and its deemed advantages.

The court told the Centre that it should state in an affidavit the “difficulty” in sharing the information on pricing, after Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said it might not be possible to disclose the cost.

However, the court clarified that details which the government may, at this stage, consider to be “strategic and confidential” be submitted to the court in a sealed cover without sharing it with the counsel for the petitioners.

Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, former Minister and rebel BJP leader Arun Shourie and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan had on October 4 sought the registration of an FIR and a probe into the Rafale deal.

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