Rafale deal LATEST updates: Union minister Arun Jaitley lashed out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi in a Facebook post. "How many lies are necessary to be peddled to save a sinking dynasty," he wrote. Meanwhile, rejecting Congress' claim, Reliance Defence said that the MoU for Rafale aircraft was signed between France and India on 25 January, 2016, not in April 2015. "Facts are being deliberately twisted and ignored for political gains," it said in a statement.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted, "Why would this crony businessman meet French Defence Minister's advisors in a 'confidential' meeting, days before Modi made the surprise announcement of buying 36 Rafale jets instead of 126 from France?"
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was addressing a gathering in Haryana's Kurukshetra while the Rafale controversy was taken up by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, did not respond to the allegations in his speech, but asserted that "middlemen" and "those who loot the poor" have been eradicated from the system.
Slamming the Opposition grand alliance, he said, "Today all honest people have faith in 'chowkidaar', lekin jo bhrasht hain unko Modi se kasht hai".The faces of 'mahamilavat' are in a competition among themselves to threaten the court, the CBI, and abuse Modi."
Notwithstanding the controversy around the Rafale deal, the IAF on Tuesday said that the Rafale fighter jet procurement process is on schedule. IAF vice chief air marshal Anil Khosla on Tuesday said, "Rafale induction into the IAF will give a big boost to our combat capabilities."
After the Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the CAG report on Rafale had been leaked without being tabled in the Lok Sabha, CNN-News18 said that the report is not likely to get tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
Ravi Shankar Prasad also strongly objected to the Congress president's accusation of "treason" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The law minister said, "He (Rahul Gandhi) has thrown muck at his own face by abusing our honest prime minister... We will expose his lies before the public."
The BJP leader said his party had serious differences with former prime ministers, who came from the Gandhi family, over several "murky" defence deals signed during their term but never accused them of treason.
According to Indian Air Force, the Rafale programme is on schedule. ANI quoted an IAF official as saying that the first Rafale aircraft will be delivered in September this year. "The delivery will take place in France and the aircraft will be brought back to India," the official told ANI.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Rahul Gandhi was the "most shameful" president in the party's history. "Rahul Gandhi is a machine of lies, and we only exposing his lies. He is playing with national security."
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad countered Rahul Gandhi's accusations on the Rafale deal on Tuesday and said, "We cannot expect anything better from Rahul Gandhi, whose whole family has looted the country at some point or another. He quoted the Airbus email, where did he get it from? How did he get an internal email of the company? Let him explain how he got the email first.
"I am accusing Rahul Gandhi of acting as a lobbyist for competitive plane supplier companies."
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge brought up the Rafale issue in the Lok Sabha, accusing the Centre of protecting corrupt people. "We demand a JPC in the matter, the government must agree."
Union minister Rajnath Singh says that the Opposition was purposely misleading the public. "Congress repeating same lies 1000 times to make it a truth," he said.
Rahul further questioned the fact that how did Anil Ambani come to know about the defence deal, which is ostensibly a state secret, even before the defence minister, or the foreign secretary. "This is no more about corruption, Narendra Modi is guilty of treason," says Rahul.
"There were only two people in India who knew about the deal," Rahul said apparently in reference to Modi and Ambani. He claimed that it was the prime minister himself who shared the information with Ambani. "If this is true then PM is in violation of official secrets act. Criminal action must be initiated on this basis," Rahul said.
Rahul Gandhi said Anil Ambani knew about deal before HAL. This was not a matter of corruption, the prime minister violated the Official Secrets Act, he said. "Narendra Modi acted as Anil Ambani's middleman," says Rahul.
Rahul Gandhi cited The Indian Express report and asked how is Anil Ambani meeting the French defence minister before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting. "This is violation of the Secrets Act."
'National interest' has been cited as reason for withholding pricing details of the Rafale deal. Reports on Tuesday said that the CAG cited two reasons for withholding the pricing details of the controversial Rafale deal in its much-awaited report. The auditor has said that the details have been withheld due to national interest, and also claimed that there is a non-disclosure agreement between India and France, CNN-News18 reported.
CAG report will not get into pricing details, says report. The CAG report, which is expected to be submitted to the Parliament on Tuesday, “will not get into” the pricing details of the Rafale deal, reports said. The pricing details have been withheld by the government citing an “information security agreement” between India and France.
The Centre is scheduled to table the CAG report on Rafale jet fighter deal in Parliament on Tuesday. The Opposition has stepped up its attack on the Narendra Modi-led government over the controversial issue, alleged a "conflict of interest" asking the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi to recuse himself from auditing the deal as he was the finance secretary when the deal was negotiated.
The ongoing Budget Session is the last session of the Lok Sabha before the general elections in April-May.
Former minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Sunday asked Mehrishi to recuse himself from auditing the deal as he was the finance secretary when the deal was negotiated. Union minister Arun Jaitley, however, rebutted Sibal's claims saying that the Congress was casting aspersions on the institution of CAG based on "falsehood".
"Another attack on the institution of CAG by the 'Institution wreckers' based on falsehood. After ten years in Government former UPA ministers still don't know that Finance Secretary is only a designation given to the senior most secretary in the finance ministry," Jaitley said a series of tweets on Sunday.
The Congress on Monday cited a media report claiming that the government waived anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal to call for a probe into "who paid whom", with party chief Rahul Gandhi alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "opened the door" to allow industrialist to "steal" Rs 30,000 crore from the Air Force.
The all-out attack on the government came after a report in The Hindu newspaper claimed the Rafale deal between India and France involved "major and unprecedented" concessions from the Modi dispensation, with critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties and making payments through an escrow account dropped days before the signing of the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).
"NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 Cr. from the IAF (sic)," Gandhi tweeted, tagging the report. The government, as well as Ambani, whose company is offset partner under the deal, have strongly refuted allegations of any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France.
Last week, the Congress president had demanded answers to questions raised by another report in the newspaper that the PMO conducted parallel negotiations on the Rafale deal. Repeating the "chowkidar" epithet, he ramped up his attack on the prime minister and said it was "crystal clear" that the "watchman" is the "thief".
Speaking at Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu's day-long fast at the Andhra Bhavan, he alleged that Modi had "stolen" from the people of the state and “given the money to industrialist Ambani”.
"The prime minister became prime minister by saying he is going to fight corruption. Have you read The Hindu newspaper today...The prime minister has stolen from the people of Andhra Pradesh and he has given that money to Mr Anil Ambani, that is the fact of the matter," he said.
Later, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, at a press conference, said the Congress wants to raise the fundamental question why the BJP-led NDA government waived the anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal. The answer is very simple because there has been corruption in the Rafale deal, he said.
Tewari said the implications of the action of alleged waiving of the anti-corruption clauses in the deal meant that the French, especially the suppliers — Dassault and missile-maker MBDA — were indemnified.
"Essentially, what it means is that those who essentially paid, through whom the transactions were routed, and the end beneficiaries, get fully indemnified...Government doesn't have the legal locus to cancel the contract," he claimed.
Dassault and MBDA were in the "driver's seat" in the Rafale deal negotiations and not the government of India, he alleged.
"One thing is emerging clearly, which requires investigation, which requires a joint parliamentary committee (probe), that somebody has paid somebody in the fighter Rafale procurement," Tewari said.
"We would again like to emphasise that if these very overt acts of malfeasance...if the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report ignores it, because we believe that the CAG report is being tabled tomorrow, then that report will not be worth the paper it is written on," he said.
On 24 August, 2016, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the inter-governmental agreement, while in September 2016, the defence acquisition council overrode the cabinet committee on security and amended eight vital clauses of the fighter jet deal, Tewari alleged.
"The moot question is what happened between 24 August, 2016, and 23 September, 2016, what transpired in those 30 days. Who paid whom in those 30 days that led to the dropping of the anti-corruption clauses from the Rafale agreement," he asked.
Earlier, senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said the Rafale deal is unravelling faster than the government thought.
"First, it was the loading of the India Specific Enhancement costs on 36 aircraft, instead of 126 aircraft, giving a bonanza to Dassault. Then it was the revelation that 'parallel negotiations' were being carried on by PMO undermining the efforts of the Indian Negotiating Team," he said in a series of tweets.
Now it is revealed that crucial changes were made to the clauses in the standard Defence Procurement Procedure, he said. "No sovereign guarantee, no bank guarantee, no escrow account, yet a huge amount was paid as advance," Chidambaram alleged.
Lashing out at the Modi government, he said, "No penalty clause for undue influence, no clause against agency commission, no clause for access to suppliers' accounts, and Dassault goes laughing all the way to the bank."
Citing the media report, Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Modiji, after waiving off sovereign guarantee in Rafale deal, you also waived off the 'anti-corruption measure' of a 'safeguard Escrow A/c'! What is the corruption you wanted to hide?(sic)" The whole country is abuzz that "chowkidar chor hai", he said.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Feb 12, 2019 16:40:58 IST