April 22, 2021
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New hurdles
MMRCA deal: Reliance and MoD officials are under fresh scanner

After the law makers raised objections to ongoing evaluations and negotiations, the multi billion dollar MMRCA deal has come under fresh scrutiny in which government insiders fear the whole process may lead to prolonged delay or cancellations at the end of the day.

All this proved that under the height of ‘honesty’ or at least the best selling brand built under Defence Minister A K Antony’s tenure, the MoD has turned into a web of scams, irregularities and wrong doings in last five years. The story however does not end there itself.

Due to faulty accounting and bench marking process, now the whole deal has crossed 1 lakh crore Rupees and earlier the deal was finalized at 42,000 crore Rupees and the bench marking was done at 67,000 crore Rupees.

Had the price offer of Dassault Aviation fallen within the limit of bench marking price then there was no question of any negotiation simply awarding the contract but it is found to be way ahead so the MoD is confused what to do next.

Now no one knows how it can be covered up at a time when the government is borrowing from the market and the oil price is hovering at 150 USD per barrel. If Iran crisis deepens then it could be a disaster.  

On the top of it, there is a parallel probe going on in the midst of negotiation. Government sources said that two officers’ role in MMRCA deal case have allegedly come under scrutiny.

Since both Defence Secretary S K Sharma and Ranjan Ghosh who is JS (Air) are in charge of the negotiation, it is most likely that their role too may come under scanner sooner or later.

Ghosh who was once carrying a brand honest image is getting vulnerable as he is unnecessarily seeking an extension in the same post. Ghosh, all set to finish his tenure in May, has already spent 10 years in MoD as JS (Air) which is extraordinarily exceptional going by MoD functioning where people survive 2 to 3 years at the most.

Another senior MoD officer has quit the MMRCA negotiation committee after there was a threat to his life made by some disgruntled elements.      

The ongoing probe has reportedly come across new points that how Reliance Industries which had no defence license till yesterday, but suddenly became defence offset partner of Dassault Aviation. Interestingly, some said the DPP was amended last year to remove this clause which was there for last six years as it is mandatory to have a defence license.

Whether the removal of this DPP clause is a natural process or it was done to favor their chosen few and selected candidates.

The letter written by TDP Rajya Sabha MP M V Mysura Reddy to Defence Minister A K Antony seeking an inquiry into the mega defence deal claiming that the process to select the L1 was rigged and the loser- Eurofighter Typhoon-was actually the L1, has tremendous impact on the deal.

“The Rafale scam might do the Manmohan government, whatever the Bofors scam did to the Rajiv Gandhi government. I am sure you might want to avoid that syndrome,” he wrote on February 27, 2012.

MMRCA deal has already faced lot of controversies in the recent past. For example, how the file pertaining to MMRCA deal was found laying abandoned at a road side park of a South Delhi area in December 2010 is still quite a mystery.

This magazine was the first which virtually named Sundaram Krishna, former Advisor to Defence Minister as the culprit but Antony has not said anything about it publicly till date despite conducting a farcical probe.