New Delhi (Sputnik) — The $8.8 billion deal between India and France for the purchase of Dassault Aviation's Rafale combat jets for the Indian Air Force has come under heavy criticism ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's maiden visit to India early next year.
Rahul Gandhi, vice president of India's main opposition party — the Indian National Congress (INC) — has accused the Narendra Modi-led government of "changing the entire deal to benefit one businessman."
Continuing his tirade against what he described as an overpriced deal, Gandhi told journalists in New Delhi on Thursday, "why don't you question the prime minister over the Rafale deal? He changed the entire deal to help just one businessman." He also alleged that the deal undermined national security.
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force has defended the Modi government's decision to purchase the Rafale jets.
"There is no controversy. What is the controversy I don't understand? It is not overpriced. The government has negotiated a very good deal. I think we have negotiated a better deal in the Rafale contract than what we did in MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft)," Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said.
The controversy was basically triggered by speculations that the Indian government was planning to discuss the purchase of additional Rafale jets during French President Macron's upcoming visit.
The French president's visit is mainly aimed at charting out a roadmap for greater security and strategic cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. France's minister for Europe and foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is arriving in Delhi on Friday to set the tone for the president's visit.