Investigate the deal: On L’affaire Rafale

The role of middlemen in both the bid process and the Rafale sale agreement must be probed

In its price-redacted audit report on the Rafale deal, the CAG report, tabled in Parliament in February 2019, while examining the earlier bid process between 2007-12, had pointed out procedural violations in defence procurement — Dassault’s technical bid was rejected and later it was allowed to incorporate India-specific enhancements to meet bid-compliant qualitative requirements. The report also unequivocally stated that the defence acquisition process needed reforms and streamlining — points that are buttressed by the new revelations that shed light on the role of defence middlemen in mucking up the procurement process to favour a particular vendor. At the very least, investigative agencies such as the CBI and the ED must probe Mr. Gupta’s role in the bid process and the IGA. The Government cannot just wish away the questions that are repeatedly emerging about the Rafale deal and must open an investigation into the procurement process. After all, defence preparedness and national security interests dictate that operational readiness goes hand-in-hand with procedural propriety in defence procurement.

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