New Delhi: A seemingly angry Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Thursday asserted the recently-signed Euro 7.878 billion-deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets was the best ever offered to any country, rejecting Swaraj Abhiyan's Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav's allegation that India paid double the price.
"How much does it cost to level allegation?" an angry Parrikar retorted when asked about the charge levelled by Swaraj Abhiyan, according to news agency PTI.
"Rafale is the best deal that we have managed. It was because Prime Minister of India and President of France agreed that we have this deal which has not been offered to any other country," Parrikar said.
Parrikar, however, refused to comment on the duo's allegation that BJP parliamentarian Varun Gandhi was "honey trapped" into leaking defence secrets, a charge stoutly denied by the leader.
Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav of the newly launched Swaraj Abhiyan party on Thursday alleged they had received evidence against defence officers and BJP MP Varun Gandhi, who allegedly leaked sensitive information to middlemen involved in the purchase of six Scorpène submarines for Rs 18,000 crore from Thales.
Bhushan said Edmonds Allen, the whistleblower in the Scorpène case, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, accusing one Abhishek Verma of providing BJP MP Varun Gandhi with foreign escorts and taking his picture in comprising positions for information. Allen was once a business partner of Verma, currently out on bail and facing trial in the Navy War Room Leak case.
He said despite having knowledge of all these things, the BJP government did not blacklist Thales, the company that sold scam-tainted Scorpene submarines, as Dassault acquired it.
Dassault Aviation has 25.3 per cent stake in Thales.
He said it seemed kickbacks had been paid in the Rafale deal and the government should come clean on the price negotiations for the fighter aircrafts from the beginning till date.
“The government should order an FIR against Verma and Thales for payment of commission in Scorpène deal and another FIR against Verma and the officers of Navy and Air Force for leaking defence secrets,” Bhushan demanded.
Parrikar however said nothing has been proved in the alleged Scorpene leak and hence the case for banning any firm does not arise.
India recently signed a deal with Dassault for 36 Rafale aircraft.
Varun has already denied the charge, saying he has not met middleman Abhishek Verma, to whom he has been accused of having leaked defence secrets, since 2004.
He has threatened to file a defamation suit against Bhushan and Yadav over the charges.