Rafale deal updates: BSP president Mayawati on Monday also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal. She said honesty, national interest, and national security is being compromised and ignored for the sake of the "chowkidar".
"Corruption and corrupt defence deal, no problem! Chowkidar is important for the BJP/RSS, not his honesty?" she asked on Twitter, referring to the prime minister as a watchman, an epithet often used by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to describe Modi.
Jayant Sinha says NDA government made Indian Army strong. After the Lok Sabha reassembled at 2 pm, Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said that the NDA government had made the army strong and slammed the Opposition over "unfulfilled promises". He said, "What happened to the bullet-proof vests that were being promised for 10 years? Let's not even talk about Rafale. The NDA government made the army strong."
The much-awaited CAG report on Rafale, which is likely to be taken up during the Budget Session of Parliament, might be tabled on Wednesday, reports said. Wednesday will be the last day of the last scheduled session of the current Lok Sabha before general elections.
The Centre's application for a correction in the Supreme Court's 15 December verdict is yet to be heard by the apex court. Reports said that the Centre has not mentioned before the court for an early hearing of its application.
The government, in its application, claimed that the court had "misinterpreted" information submitted to it regarding the pricing details of the deal. The verdict had said, "“The pricing details have, however, been shared with the CAG, and the report of the CAG has been examined by the PAC. Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before Parliament and is in the public domain.”
However, the Congress party claimed that no such CAG report had been submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). PAC chairman Mallikarjun Kharge had also demanded an apology from the government.
The Congress on Monday said the Rafale deal is "unravelling" faster than the government thought, with issues such as "parallel negotiations" by the PMO and changes in the standard defence procurement procedure coming to the fore.
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.
Congress' Veerappa Moily accuses Narendra Modi of corruption. In the Lok Sabha on Monday, Moily raised the Rafale deal controversy and said that "people who deal with wholesale corruption" don't worry about the "integrity of the country". Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, "If anyone has to be held guilty in this deal, it is the prime minister and prime minister alone."
He referred to the latest report by The Hindu and said, "It is clear why the Centre is not implementing the Lok Pal bill, because the prime minister might be the number one accused."
A fresh report by The Hindu on Monday claims that the NDA government let go off anti-corruption penalties and decided against paying off for the Rafale deal through escrow accounts just days before it was finalised via the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).
The report states that: "The €7.87-billion deal between India and France involved major and unprecedented concessions from the Indian government." Reacting to the allegations made in the report, the Congress through its official Twitter handle directly asked the Prime Minister Office (PMO), "Who was it trying to shield?" by waiving the standard anti-corruption clauses. It further asked the PMO whom it was trying to benefit by paying for the deal "upfront in advance".
"It is clear that Narendra Modi facilitated loot", said Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Rahul, who is currently in Uttar Pradesh accompanying Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on her maiden visit to the state as a Congress general secretary, referred to a report which said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "removed" the anti-corruption in the Rafale deal.
CAG report may not be tabled in Parliament today, say reports. CNN-News18 reported that the anticipated CAG report on the Rafale deal may not be submitted in Parliament on Monday. The report quoted sources who said that the CAG will send the report to President Ram Nath Kovind and the Finance Ministry before tabling it in the Parliament.
The report further said that the report is likely to be tabled either on Tuesday or Wednesday.
PAC chief and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said that the Congress has "no confidence" in the CAG report submitted to the Supreme Court. Kharge, speaking to reporters, said that the current BJP-led government had lied to the Supreme Court about the Rs 33,000 crore deal. The Rafale controversy blew out of proportions when The Hindu, in a report, published a note by the defence ministry in November 2015 objecting to interference from the Prime Minister's Office.
The CAG report on the Rafale deal is likely to be tabled in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament on Monday, amid objections from the Congress-led Opposition over Rajiv Mehrishi, the Comptroller and Auditor General, auditing the parametres of the deal.
The Congress sent a communique to the former bureaucrat on Sunday, alleging that the Centre had compromised "national interest" and "national security" in the purchase of 36 fighter jets as part of the deal.
Alleging conflict of interest, the Congress on Sunday requested Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi to recuse himself from auditing the deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircraft as he, as the then-finance secretary, was part of the negotiations.
The Opposition party also said that it would be improper on the part of Mehrishi to present the report in Parliament and said that it had written to him to recuse himself.
The communique also said that the CAG has a constitutional and statutory duty to undertake a forensic audit of all defence contracts, including the Rafale deal.
"It is an act of gross impropriety for you to deal with the audit of the 36 Rafale aircraft deal on account of patent conflict of interest...You are constitutionally, legally and morally disentitled to either conduct an audit or to present a report before...Parliament. We urge upon you to recuse yourself and publicly accept the gross impropriety committed by you in initiating the audit...," it said.
In its communique, the Congress has alleged that the irregularities, bungling and corruption was happening at the highest level with "your direct or indirect complicity and consent".
"This reflects your direct collaboration in the entire matter. That being so, there is no reason or occasion for you to audit the 36 Rafale aircraft deal as you can neither be a judge in your own cause nor can sit in audit over your own actions to which you were a party.
“We are deeply shocked by the fact that despite knowing these facts, you chose to neither recuse yourself as CAG from auditing the 36 Rafale aircraft deal...," it said. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal reiterated that Mehrishi is likely to present the report on the Rafale deal in Parliament on Monday.
Sibal said that Mehrishi was the finance secretary from 24 October, 2014 to 30 August, 2015 and in between Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Paris on 10 April, 2015 and announced the signing of the Rafale deal.
"...Finance Ministry plays an important role in these negotiations...Now it is clear that the Rafale deal happened under Rajeev Mehrishi. Now he is CAG. We met him twice on 19 September and 4 October, 2018. We told him about the scam. We told him that the deal should be probed because it is corrupt. But how can he initiate a probe against himself," Sibal said.
The Congress said it had, in its submissions to the CAG, listed the acts of omission and commission as well as corruption in the Rafale deal.
"He obviously cannot probe decisions he took as finance secretary. He will protect himself first and then his government. There cannot be a bigger conflict of interest than this," he said.
Sibal further said that he was trying to tell the people of India that the government was misleading them and how this government was being protected.
Lashing out at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Sibal said that she was protecting the prime minister rather than protecting the country.
"In this country, the defence minister who is responsible for protecting the country is defending the prime minister only. They are saying that what happened, everything was correct, everyone else is a liar, flogging a dead horse. Then on the other hand the expose of what happened is there," he said.
He further questioned why the prime minister was not answering basic questions on the deal regarding why parallel negotiations were undertaken when the defence ministry had written that such "interventions" cannot happen.
Asked what steps the Congress would take if Mehrishi presents the CAG report on the deal in Parliament, Sibal evaded a direct reply and said that the exposes on the issue will not stop here.
"What action can we take? The exposes are not going to stop here. The truth will come out definitely. We are ordinary people, we cannot accuse someone without facts like the PM who levels allegations against us everyday without any facts. We are not like that. We accuse someone only when we have some proof," he said.
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Updated Date: Feb 11, 2019 15:56:22 IST