RAJIV BHATIA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Arun Jaitley in the debate on Rafale deal in Lok Sabha made a very interesting reference about Eurofighter, aircraft was declared L2 by then UPA-2 Government and lost out to L1 bidder that was Dassault Rafale even though both aircraft had cleared technical and extensive flight performance trials of the Indian Air Force.
Even though Dassault Rafale had won the deal fair and square,still there was lack of clear support by then-Defense minister A. K. Antony who allowed negotiation talks being dragged for years without any final contract on the procurement of the aircraft. Jaitley clearly has hinted that there was considerable pressure on the then Defense Minister A. K. Antony to favor expensive Eurofighter bid which was backed by four founding nation of the aircraft,which includes UK and Italy which have history of corruption in previous defence deals with Gandhi family.
European consortium later even offered then UPA-2 Government Eurofighter Typhoon jet at a lower price then Dassault Rafale which could not have been accepted since it could have violated the whole tendering process and could have restarted the whole process again. Any Sudden flip flop by then UPA-2 Government could have also raised doubts if Eurofighter selection was done amid some high-level compromise with the ruling family of that time?.
Speculation in Indian media has been ripe that, Rahul Gandhi in his recent visit to European countries was approached by officials of the European consortium who are still very keen on securing orders for their aircraft under new tendering process under which 114 units will be procured with under Make in India initiatives.
The European consortium has maintained its silence on Rafale matter and is also not seen promoting its jet aggressively in India, like other vendors. Many Right-wing leaning Defence experts think it is a deliberate move to stay out of news and instead focus working behind the scene with power brokers in India.
The European consortium even though have submitted their bid again and is also participating in the tender process for the purchase of 114 units, this time they have much better clarity on pricing that their rival Dassault has given in the previous deal and repeated congress charge for detail price breakdown will only help rivals who now can low ball on price to secure a deal with India, in-turn congress party is in directly helping some companies with whom they had some links .
Interesting scenario of NDA-3 will be , what if European consortium is L1 bidder in new tender and somehow European consortium offers Eurofighter jets at cheaper rate ? It will force NDA-3 to order
Eurofighter jets or it will prefer buying Dassault Rafale at slightly higher cost ?
Another dimension is that what if their is Power reshuffle in center in 2019 and Rahul Gandhi becomes Prime Minister and orders 36 Rafale deal to be canceled , biggest beneficiary could be European consortium which will get a level playing field since IAF is clearly backing Dassault Rafale and will not be keen on procuring another or different type of aircraft under new tender for 114 units.