NEW DELHI: Cautioning the vendors and officials against using their clout or any other activity to sway the Dassault deal, Defence Minister A K Antony said, “Everybody should be careful...Nobody can corrupt India’s system. We will not tolerate this.” Antony said the establishment was following the acquisition process with utmost care.
With his statement, Antony also ruled out any rethink on India’s decision to go for the French aircraft, while rejecting the Italy-Germany-UK-Spain consortium’s Eurofighter Typhoon.
The move has created a political furore in the UK and British Prime Minister David Cameron went to the extent of saying that his government would persuade India to rethink on the decision. Reacting to the statement, the Defence Minister made it clear that the Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) has already commenced negotiation with Dassault, the French manufacturer of the fighter aircraft, to arrive at a final price of the aircraft.
The signing of the biggest military deal of present times at $10.2 billion will take at least another year, says Antony. “Already the CNC has started for the procurement of Rafale. The negotiations will take six months thereafter,” said Antony. Post contract negotiations the deal will have to pass through eight stages - four of which will be in the Ministry of Defence. “It will have to pass through scrutiny in eight stages. After CNC, it will come to the Defence Ministry. In the ministry also, there will be minimum four stages of scrutiny by Defence (Finance). Then it will go to independent monitors appointed by the CVC and then to the National Security Council, Secretariat and Finance Ministry,” said Antony, elaborating the process.
Seeing the huge size of the deal, often termed as the ‘mother of all the defence deals’, all the contenders have been pulling many strings economically, politically and strategically to sway the deal in their favour.