It all started in April, 2015, when the PM announced that India would buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassaut, the French aircraft builder & Integrator.
The deal was actually a rowing back from the last UPA Govt.’s commitment of buying 126 rafales, which was reasoned by the expensiveness of buying those many jets.
So, the opposition started to decry that there was no transparency in this multi-billion dollar deal & called it “one of the biggest failure” of the “Make-in- India” Programme.
In Jan 2016, India confirmed the order of 36 Rafale jets in defence deal with France & under this deal, Dassault & its main partners would share some techs with DRDO, HAL, & some private sectors.
The twin-engine Rafale combat jet is nuclear-capable & its EW systems can also perform reconnaissance & radar jamming roles.
In Sept 2016, India signed an Inter-governmental agreement with France, dubbed as “Rafale deal”, in which India bought 36 off-the-shelf Rafale fighter jets for a price estimated to be Rs. 58,000 Cr / 7.8 billion Euros.
Additionally, an accompanying offset clause was sealed through which France would invest 30 % of the price in India’s military aeronautics-related research programmes & 20% into local production of Rafale components.
In Nov 2016, however, a political warfare over the Rafale deal began & the opposition accused the Govt. of causing “insurmountable loss” of taxpayers’ money by signing the deal worth Rs. 58,000 Cr.
It was also claimed that the Anil Ambani- led Reliance Defence Ltd. had been unfairly picked to the French firm’s Indian partner. The claims were rebutted by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman & Anil Ambani’s RDL with the Govt. saying that the deal was transparent & better than the deal negotiated by the previous UPA Govt. in 2012.
The opposition, however, kept up its attacks on the Govt. for refusing to table details of the Rafale deal over alleged irregularities. Now that the delivery of Rafale jets is scheduled to begin from Sept of this year, the issues are currently being dredged up to make much ado in the parliament now.