Supreme Court's verdict on the Rafale deal has come as a shot in the arm for the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government. After recent electoral jolts in three crucial states — Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh — BJP has been in a dire need of a win or so it may seem even as several BJP leaders have tried not to make a big deal of the losses.
However, when the Supreme Court of India on Friday ruled that the there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France, all the big guns of the BJP came out with confidence and slammed the Congress for "discrediting" a defence deal which is crucial for India.
Soon after the Supreme Court verdict, senior BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman slammed the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi for rallying with the tirade of false allegations against the Modi government. Jaitley refused to entertain any demands 0f a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the deal while Shah dared Rahul to have a debate over Rafale deal in Parliament. Speaking to the media, Shah said that the BJP will ensure that there will be an adjournment motion in Parliament if Congress and Rahul Gandhi agree to debate over Rafale deal.
Even news channels flashed headlines as, Rafale Soars, Rahul Grounded; Disruptors have lost the plot with BJP leaders claiming loudly that Congress is only interested in sullying India's name.
Rafale is among the few bits of good news the BJP received this week amid the poll debacle. Apart from the Rafale verdict, the BJP will try and eclipse its electoral losses with the extradition of Christian Michel, an accused in the VVIP chopper AgustaWestland case and the extradition order against the fugitive defunct Kingfisher Airlines promoter Vijay Mallya. Claiming that the current dispensation was responsible for 11 fugitives being extradited in the past three years, the Centre was already thumping its chest rubbishing claims of corruption alleged by the Congress. Adding one more feather to their cap was when the Interpol issued a Red Corner notice against absconding billionaire Mehul Choksi, who is an accused of cheating state-run Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore in alleged collusion with his nephew Nirav Modi. The international police cooperation agency has issued the notice against Choksi on Wednesday on the request of the CBI rejecting his contentions of being persecuted by Indian agencies and the case of being political in nature, they said.
Choksi, 59, managing director of Gitanjali Gems Ltd, who escaped in January this year along with his nephew Nirav, his wife Ami Modi and brother Nishal Modi, has taken citizenship of Antigua. "The Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against Mehul Choksi on the request of the CBI," CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said. Choksi had challenged the CBI application seeking issuance of Red Corner Notice against him calling the case a result of a political conspiracy, sources said.
The Supreme Court ruling on Rafale and the developments on Michel and the Mallya's extradition and now the warrant against Choksi come at a time when the Parliament's Winter Session is underway and despite their poll victory (which has come after a long wait) Opposition is cornered in both Houses. While Mallya is likely to appeal and it'll be a long time before we see him in India provided he exhausts all legal options and is compelled to return. Politically, the BJP can and will still claim it as a win.
BJP will take this opportunity to counter-punch the Congress-led secular front, which includes parties like Trinamool Congress, Telugu Desam Party and NCP, with all the saffron party big guns coming out in criticism of the Congress. Right after the Supreme Court verdict, Shah held a press conference and declared that the top court's ruling proves that chowkidar can never be a chor. Senior BJP leaders like Jaitley and Sitharaman also slammed the Congress for "frivolous corruption claims". The fact that the top court of India questioned the need to bring the case to the judiciary even before a probe was conducted on it, is quite a failure on part of the Opposition who has been attacking the Centre for allegedly shielding industrialists and loan defaulters.
Now, the Opposition may find their ammo severely depleted considering that their main weapon against the Modi government, apart from the BJP 'fracturing India's social fabric', has been corruption.
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Updated Date: Dec 14, 2018 18:32:21 IST