Alleging Prime Narendra Modi's "personal culpability" in the Rafale jet purchases, former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie today accused the Prime Minister of "compromising national security" by unilaterally finalising the deal, shunning every rule of military procurement.
Addressing the media, both Mr Sinha and Mr Shourie said the government had "spun a web of lies to protect Modi's culpability in the largest defence scam" the country had ever seen.
The two ministers dismissed all explanations by the Modi government and the ruling BJP in justifying the deal as "blatant lies" and said PM Modi "usurped the authority" and unilaterally cancelled the original deal for the sake of his "crony capitalists".
"In so far what has transpired, it directly reflects Modi's personal culpability, there is no escaping that fact. Every explanation they put out ensnares the government in the web of lies they have spun. This means they have a lot to hide," said Mr Shourie.
They said that Prime Minister Modi kept the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Defence Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry in dark about the new deal before its sudden announcement in April 2015.
"National security has been compromised by Modi and every rule of procurement flouted to unilaterally reduce the number of planes from 126 to 36 and remove Make in India under Transfer of Technology by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) despite the fact that IAF, Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and MoD had come to a reasoned conclusion that 126 aircraft were required for the long term needs and security of the country," said Mr Shourie.
Citing procedural requirement of DAC's approval being a condition precedent for finalising a new deal, they pointed to the fact that the approval for PM Modi's deal was given by DAC on May 13, 2015, more than a month after the prime minister had already announced the new deal.
Mr Shourie along with Mr Sinha and lawyer activist Prashant Bhushan also claimed that the choice of a private party as offset partner rejecting HAL was a "result of Modi's personal decision".
In the wake of the government recently rejecting a proposal by Russia to make Adani Group a partner for a joint venture to manufacture the modern AK-series assault rifles, both Mr Shourie and Mr Bhushan said "MoD's total abdication of duty while granting approvals for offset contracts in the Rafale deal was exceptional".
"The question is how the price of Rs. 670 crore per aircraft went up to Rs. 1,670 crore. The government has been hiding behind confidentiality clause. If it is confidential, then how come (former defence minister) Manohar Parrikar and then (Minister of State for Defence) Subhash Bhamre had quoted the price of the jets," asked Mr Shourie.
Mr Parrikar in 2015 told Doordarshan that the UPA-negotiated price for 126 Rafale combat aircraft would have been Rs. 715 crore a piece while a year later Bhamre told the Lok Sabha that the NDA-negotiated price would be approximately Rs. 670 crore.
"Each new invention shows that all these arguments are an afterthought to justify the scam through which the price per aircraft has been increased from Rs 670 crore to Rs. 1,660 crore approximately," said Mr Sinha.