Friday, November 12, 2021

After Fresh Revelations by Mediapart, Congress Demands JPC Probe in Rafale Deal

Mumbai: The Congress on Thursday demanded that the Rafale aircraft deal with France be thoroughly investigated by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) immediately.

The remarks came days after French investigative portal Mediapart, in fresh revelations, alleged bogus invoices were used that enabled French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least 7.5 million euros in secret commissions to a middleman to help it secure the Rafale deal with India.

The report claimed that commissions were paid between 2007 and 2012, when the Congress-led UPA government was in power at the Centre, for securing the multi-billion Rafale deal with India.

Addressing a news conference here, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, no matter how hard Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP ministers try to rub their hands off in the Rafale case, their corruption and Narendra Modi’s direct involvement in the scam is now exposed to the whole world. The Modi government has repeatedly denied any irregularity in the deal.

He said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was the first to bring the Rafale plane “scam” to the notice of the people and since then, many new things have come to light.

We demand from the Congress that this matter be thoroughly investigated by a Joint Parliamentary Committee immediately, Khera said.

He added that the proposal to buy the Rafale aircraft was first made by the Manmohan Singh government. According to the proposal, India was to procure 126 aircraft from Dassault Aviation.

Of these, 18 aircraft were to be procured directly and the remaining 108 jets to be manufactured in India under the transfer of technology clause of the deal, the Congress spokesperson said.

But then the BJP government came in 2014 and the whole picture changed, Khera said.

In 2015, Modi went to Paris and announced that India would buy 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault without any tender, Khera added.

When the Congress was in power, the price of a single Rafale aircraft was estimated at Rs 526 crore. But the Modi government first reduced the number of aircraft to 36 from 126 and secondly, they decided to buy them without any tender, he said. Thirdly, the Modi government increased the price of Rs 526 crore per aircraft to Rs 1,670 crore per plane, the Congress spokesman said.

The fourth thing is that they removed the clause of transfer of technology from this transaction and the fifth and most serious thing is that they also removed the no corruption clause from this transaction, which is important in every security transaction of the country, Khera said. Modi himself intervened and removed the clause. But now we know why Modi removed this clause, Khera alleged.

On October 4, 2018, former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie complained to the CBI director about corruption in the Rafale deal. Subsequently, on October 11, 2018, the Attorney General of Mauritius handed over a file containing some information to the CBI, he said.

It had the name of a broker named Sushen Gupta. It was alleged that Gupta received some payments in the Rafale plane purchase case, he said.

Then on October 23, 2018, CBI Director Alok Verma was transferred overnight and M A Nageshwar Rao was appointed in his place, Khera said.

Gupta was named in the case and his house raided by the ED on March 16, 2019 and the central agency found some important confidential documents related to the Rafale deal, Khera added.

12/11/21 PTI/Wire

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