New Delhi, March 13: The Narendra Modi-led government yet again dismissed any joint venture agreement (JVA)  between public sector defence firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and French firm Dassault Aviation under the MMRCA deal for 126 Rafale fighter jets. Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, said, “Due to the inability of the government to conclude negotiations and sign the contract, there was no such agreement between Dassault Aviation and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or any other Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).” Also Read - G7 Summit 2021: Leaders Pledge to Deliver on Vaccines, Climate; Call Out China on Right Abuses | 10 Points

Bhamre was replying to a question by Congress MP Vivek K. Tankha if a “JVA regarding Rafale Jet was signed between its developer, Dassault Aviation, and HAL, and was subsequently annulled”. (Also Read: Rafale Deal: Congress Sniffs a Scam And Here’s The Reason Behind it) Also Read - Modi Cabinet Expansion Buzz: Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushil Modi to Get Ministerial Berth in Next Reshuffle? Take a Look at Likely Contenders

“The quantum of offsets in the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale fighter jets is 50 per cent, which includes investments in terms of Transfer of Technology (ToT) for manufacture and maintenance of eligible products and services. The current offsets policy of the Defence Procurement permits the vendors to provide details of their Indian Offset Partners (IOP) either at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to discharge of offset obligations. Vendor/Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) is free to select his Indian Offset Partner,” Bhamre added. Also Read - ‘One Earth, One Health’: PM Modi Calls For Global Unity To Prevent Future Pandemics At G7 Summit

Tankha in an another question had also asked whether it is a fact that the previous government had negotiated a USD 10.2 billion deal for the 126 jets whereas the current regime finalised purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft for USD 8.7 billion without the provision of transfer of technology.

Bhamre in his reply said,”It had not been possible to finalise the terms and condition for acquiring 126 aircraft even after protracted process from the period of issue of a Request for Proposal (RFP) in 2007 to unsuccessful commercial negotiations up to 2014.” (Also Read: Congress Alleges Scam in Rafale Deal, Demands Disclosure of Details)

“Further, there was only license manufacturing involved for 108 aircrafts for manufacture in India. As such, the terms and conditions between the earlier exercise to procure 126 aircraft and procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft in direct fly-away condition including cost per aircraft cannot be compared. Further, acquiring Transfer of Technology (ToT) for only 36 aircraft would not have been cost effective,” he contended.

Congress Alleges Scam

The Congress party on many occasions had alleged irregularities in the deal for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets off-the-shelf from France, signed between the Indian and French governments. It has also alleged that the fighter jets are being bought at a price higher than what was negotiated in the previous multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal under which 126 fighter jets were to be bought, and included a number of fighters being assembled in India.

‘Deal Confidential’

However, the Modi-led government had refused to reveal the price citing a confidentiality clause and had claimed that India is getting under the IGA is lower than in the UPA deal. Earlier on March 3, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had dismissed allegations of corruption in the contract for 36 Rafale jets and said that there can be no comparison between the scam-hit Bofors gun deal and the procurement of the fighter jet.

(With inputs from agencies)