The Congress on Friday stated Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s silence on what it claimed is fresh proof of irregularities in the Rafale deal is a precursor to a “massive storm” the government is about to face. Congress leader Pawan Khera said Modi cannot leave his political and constitutional responsibility and accountability in the “biggest defence scam” of India and for the truth to prevail, the only route is to order a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe in this “scandal”.
The government has disapproved any wrongdoing in the deal while the BJP has dismissed as “lies” allegations of corruption levelled by the Congress. Khera came out with a ‘management meet note’ of ICICI Bank claiming it was another proof of Modi government’s “involvement” in the Rafale scam.
He confirmed that the note claimed that Reliance Defence has formed a joint venture with French major Dassault for execution of offset obligations, as a part of the 36 Rafale fighter jet purchase valued at Rs 59000 crore.
He stated the ICICI Bank management has pegged this opportunity from Rafale at Rs 1,05,000 crore and Dassault Reliance JV will provide performance-based logistics for 50 years.
Khera called that another undisputable evidence has come to the fore that establishes the “deliberately hiked” commercial cost of 36 Rafale aircraft deal signed by Modi on April 10, 2015. “The silence of the Narendra Modi government on the new skeletons that have tumbled out of their Rafale scam cupboard is a precursor to a massive storm,” he told reporters.
The Congress leader told the Prime Minister “cannot escape from his moral, political, legal and constitutional responsibility and accountability in the ‘biggest defence scam’ of India”. “Everyday, new sets of irrefutable evidence are lining up at the doorstep of Prime Minister Modi which cements the charges of ‘squandering national interests’, ‘brazen crony capitalism’, ‘kickbacks and corruption’ and ‘serious illegalities’ that have taken place in the ‘murky saga of Rafale scam’.”
Claiming that price does not cover under the so-called secrecy pact that the government is talking about, he questioned why the Prime Minister and his government were hesitant to disclose the price of the fighter jets. “What is the price per aircraft of the 36 aircraft deal confirmed by Prime Minister Modi on April 10, 2015, in France…
“What is stopping the Modi government to reveal the commercial cost of the Rafale deal as well as the explanation of the offset obligations,” he asked. Khera stated if Dassault Aviation in its annual report can reveal the price per aircraft, if Reliance Defence can reveal the aircraft price and if a retired bureaucrat and former ‘Head of Finances’ in the defence ministry, can reveal the benchmark price, why the government cannot. The Congress had on Thursday accused PM Modi of compromising national interest on the Rafale matter, with party chief Rahul Gandhi alleging that the latest skeleton to tumble out of the “Rafale cupboard” is that there is no guarantee by the French government backing the deal.
The Congress also accused the Prime Minister of accepting in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by him, the higher ‘benchmark price’ of Euro 8.2 billion instead of Euro 5.2 billion for the 36 aircraft, instead objections by the Defence Acquisition Council and the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar not approving it.
The opposition party also charged Modi with waiving the condition of arbitration between India and France by converting it into an arbitration between the supplier company Dassault and Indian Government, as also changing the venue of arbitration from India to Switzerland.