Monday, July 05, 2021

India’s Opposition Demands Parliamentary Probe of Rafale Deal

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political opponents stepped up their demands for a probe into India’s purchase of Rafale combat jets after France reportedly launched a judicial investigation into allegations of corruption in the deal.

The Indian National Congress party on Sunday called for an investigation into the allegations, including changes in the terms of the contract for the 2016 purchase of 36 fighters from Dassault Aviation SA.

The renewed demands follow a report that France’s financial prosecutor is starting a probe based on a complaint filed by French non-governmental organization Sherpa, which said in a statement that it suspects “corruption, favoritism and various financial offenses” may have occurred.

The Congress party has asked that a “fair joint parliamentary committee be constituted immediately and every aspect of the Rafale deal be investigated,” spokesman Pawan Khera said in a press conference in New Delhi.

The Indian party led by Rahul Gandhi has alleged that the Modi government scrapped a 126-jet deal negotiated by the previous Congress-led administration, and acquired the 36 jets at a higher price. It has also claimed that Modi’s government forced Dassault to partner with businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group as a condition of the contract.

Ambani and the Modi government have denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

04/05/21 Archana Chaudhary and Francois De Beaupuy/Bloomberg

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