Manohar Parrikar contradicts BJP’s tweet on Rafale purchase, says deal not finalised yet

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said that the deal to purchase 36 Rafale combat jets from France has not been fnalised as yet though it is in an “advanced stage” .

The Defence Minister said this a day after BJP tweeted a graphics through his official Twitter handle, saying that the Rafale combat aircraft deal has been “finalised” and the Narendra Modi government had saved over Rs 21,000 crore in the “re-negotiation” with the French government.

The Defence Minister, while refusing to comment on that, said the Centre’s intention is to “close it quite soon”.

Defence Ministry sources had earlier said the deal was at an advanced stage and both India and France had narrowed down their differences over the pricing issue.

“I can only tell you this much that while the deal is in quite an advanced stage, and we intent to close it quite soon, I still can’t say that negotiations are totally cleared until we sign the deal or at least the deal is forwarded to the Cabinet for approval,” Parrikar told reporters in New Delhi.

The deal is expected to be finalised by May end. India has been bargaining hard with France over the pricing of the 36 fighter planes, a deal that was announced first by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015.

The cost of the 36 Rafales, as per the earlier tender while keeping the cost escalation into account, comes to around Rs 65,000 crore.

India has been bargaining for a price that is less than 8 billion Euro (Rs 59,000 crore).

“The deal to buy 36 state-of-the-art Rafale aircraft from France at 12 billion dollar (Rs 80000 crore) was re-negotiated and finalised at 8.8 billion dollar (around Rs 59000 crore),” the BJP tweet had said.

The government “saved” public money and the deal resulted in gain of “technological knowledge” and “strengthening the air power to defend the border”, it had said.

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