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Modi's Rafale deal in France "reminds" one of how tinpot dictators would carry fat chequebooks during trips abroad

By Our Representative
One of the top-most Indian diplomats, who has worked as ambassador in several countries, has taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rafale deal in France, saying, this reminds one of how the French would get around “authoritarian rulers” and “tin-pot dictators” – like Muammar Gaddafi – who would carry fat chequebooks in their pockets while travelling abroad.
Calling the deal a “disgrace”, in an analysis in Delhi-based journal, “Mainstream” (Mol LIII, No 17), MK Bhadrakumar says, one need not go far to knows why the French leadership went the “whole hog to make Modi’s visit memorable.” A career diplomat, Bhadrakumar has served in former Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
“The entire leadership—President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the charming Mayor of Paris herself—kept aside their weekend to escort Modi on a Seine cruise”, the diplomat recalls, adding, “That would make President Barack Obama go green with envy.”
Saying that this was for a “very good reason”, Bhadrakumar contends, “The French got, finally, what they wanted, namely, a revision of the terms of conditions of the MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) deal that would absolve them of the need to make the Rafale fighter aircraft in the shoddy Indian defence factories.”
He says, “Any vendor would love to sell rather than co-produce with the buyer, but the previous UPA government was adamant for some strange reason that the French should stick to the terms of the tender under which they had won the deal”, adding, “Maybe, it was the then Defence Minister AK Antony’s magical touch”, or maybe the UPA didn’t want “yet another scam of arms procurement.”
Pointing out that “Modi has now blinked”, Bhadrakumar insists, “The chilling truth is that the MMRCA deal has been arbitrarily revised by Modi on a balmy weekend afternoon in Paris. Just like that. And, that too, without even India’s Defence Minister being involved in his discussions in Paris with his fawning French hosts.”
Bhadrakumar say, “The fact that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was inaugurating a fish stall in his home State of Goa even as Modi was striking the ‘flyaway’ Rafale deal in Paris speaks volumes about India’s cabinet system of government during the Modi era.” He wonders whether India was a “banana republic”.
“The spin being given is that the French are selling at a competitive price”, says Bhadrakumar, adding, “Of course, they will quote a good price. What else would you expect from shrewd businessmen? Because, any vendor knows that the trick is to somehow make the entry into the market.”
Under the deal, Bhadrakumar says, “The Indians have now no option but to buy dozens and dozens more of Rafale aircraft. The Indian Air Force is ‘locked in’. It can’t be that the IAF’s need for Rafale ends with 36 aircraft after having trained an entire cadre of personnel to fly and maintain the aircraft.”
Saying that the deal is also the of Modi’s talk of Make in India, Bhadrakumar underlines, “At least, this government should do us a favour—Modi and his Ministers should never dare to utter those eleven syllables again, ‘Make in India’. If they do so again, it will be an insult to the Indian people’s common sense and intelligence. A non-performing government is bad enough. But to sell airy dreams to the people is the height of political cynicism.”

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