The Congress today lashed out at the Narendra Modi government’s alleged silence over recent developments around India’s ₹ 59,000-crore Rafale jet deal. Among other things, the opposition party said, huge amounts of money were paid to middlemen in the deal, according to documents available now.
The controversy over the mega deal resurfaced yesterday with the Congress seeking a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) investigation after a news website reported that a French judge had been appointed to lead a “highly sensitive” judicial probe into alleged “corruption and favouritism” in the deal with India. The 2016 deal was for the sale of 36 Dassault-built fighter jets.
In a mocking tweet posted in Hindi today, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked why Prime Minister Modi’s government wasn’t ready for a JPC probe. The options he provided as answer were: “guilt conscience,” “friends, too, need to be protected”, “JPC doesn’t need a Rajya Sabha seat”, and “all the options are right”. This was preceded by another Hindi tweet yesterday, in which he posted part of a proverb that alleged guilt.
Meanwhile, party spokesperson Pawan Khera said today at a press conference in the national capital that the Rafale deal was an inter-governmental one between India and France and one of the two countries had initiated a probe while the other was yet to even comment.
“It’s been 24 hours since France has ordered a probe on matters like corruption, influence peddling, money laundering, favouritism. The whole nation, the whole world is now looking to New Delhi. Why the silence?” Mr Khera said.
“Now it is getting clearer that in the Rafale deal we have bought an item that costs ₹ 570 crore at ₹ 1,670 crore,” he said.
Suggesting that the deal was now rapidly heading towards being an “open and shut” case, the Congress spokesperson alleged that anti-corruption clauses from the deal were removed. He also accused middlemen of being involved in the proceedings.
“In April, it was revealed that according to documents seized from a middleman arrested in another case by the Enforcement Directorate, crores and crores of rupees were gifted to this middle man in the Rafale deal. We don’t know what the ED did with those documents, but France is now probing them,” Mr Khera said.
The BJP had yesterday termed the Congress’s attacks “lies”.