Mumbai, Feb 13 (PTI) On a day a CAG report observed that the NDA government’s Rafale deal was cheaper than the UPA’s 2007 offer, the NCP Wednesday questionned its “authenticity” and claimed a “conflict of interest” by referring to CAG Rajiv Mehrishi’s previous stint as Union finance secretary.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, which was submitted in Parliament earlier in the day, said the Rafale deal negotiated by the NDA government to procure 36 fighter jets was 2.86 per cent cheaper than the UPA’s 2007 offer.

It also said that the deal was 17.08 per cent cheaper with regard to India specific enhancements.

The BJP and Opposition have locked horns over the deal to purchase Rafale fighter aircraft from France.

The NCP, which is one of the parties to back the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal, said CAG Mehrishi was finance secretary when negotiations were underway to purchase the fighter jets.

“Mehrishi was part of Rafale negotiations, and he himself is CAG now. So, the question is the authenticity or truthfulness of the CAG report. The conflict of interest is there,” said NCP spokesperson Sanjay Tatkare.

He said the CAG report was silent on the actual cost of the deal.

“Why the cost appears 2.86 per cent lower is because they (the Centre) have waived the bank guarantee which was one of the components in the deal considered during the UPA’s tenure,” he said.

The Sharad Pawar-led party was a constituent of the Congress-led UPA dispensation.

“Since the NDA government waived the bank guarantee and removed anti-corruption clause from the deal, the fighter jet seller did not require to pay a premium for it and the cost came down.

“So, basically, the CAG has not compared apples with apples. The CAG has to remove the bank guarantee which was considered during the UPA era and then compare,” Tatkare claimed.

Quoting a media report, the NCP leader said three members of the Rafale negotiation team had dissented on these very aspects of time and cost.

“We don’t know if the CAG was supplied those papers.

This government is capable of hiding facts,” Tatkare alleged.

“Whatever report has been presented in Parliament does not talk about the cost. It just says the cost is 2.86 per cent lower,” he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.