A model of a Rafale fighter jet has been put up outside the official residence of India Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa in New Delhi. Surprisingly, his residence is right opposite the Congress headquarters.
The Rafael Row
Before elections, Congress and BJP were indulged in a war of words over Rafael deal. Congress-led opposition was constantly raising questions over the financial terms of the agreement of India’s buying 36 Rafael and alleging crony capitalism while the government was rubbishing the accusations. However, the Supreme Court has said it has no objection to any part of the Rafale deal. Yet the Congress president has still alleged that the Modi Government’s Rafale deal is more expensive than the UPA’s and that Reliance Defence was chosen as an offset partner under pressure from the Indian government.
Post-election, it looks that the allegations and the blame game have settled down for a while. Indeed, there was something interesting that took place in Lutyens Delhi which has grabbed attention to many. A replica of a Rafale fighter jet has been put up outside the official residence of Indian Air Force (IAF) chief. Ironically the residence is bang opposite the Congress headquarters.
Replica right opposite to Congress HQ
Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa’s Akbar Road residence is located just opposite the headquarters of the Congress party, which had raked up alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal as part of its campaign against the Narendra Modi government during the 2019 Lok Sabha Election. Air Chief has defended the Rafale amid the opposition onslaught over the deal, calling it a ‘game-changer’ for the IAF that would tilt the balance of power back in India’s favor.
The Rafale replica placed outside the IAF chief’s house comes with two fuselage-mounted Meteor missiles, two wing-tip MICA missiles, a centerline drop tank, and two under-wing drop tanks, besides a French precision-guided munition.
IAF sources said the model was supplied by Dassault, as manufacturers did under any other contract. The first model of the Rafale was put up inside the Air Headquarters: A fully-loaded Rafale is the first thing one sees as they step through the gates of the heavily- guarded Air Headquarters.
‘The second model has come up at the chief’s house,’ one of the sources said.
India inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 59,000 crore. The first of the 36 Rafales will be handed over to the IAF in September. Source