The Rafale deal has given rise to a seemingly unending war of words within the political sphere, with the Congress time and again accusing the Centre of shady dealings.
The allegations against the BJP began after the deal was signed in September 2016, with Congress pointing out that the government has strayed from the original deal, and demanded that the details of the deal be made public.
Alleging that the NDA's revised deal with Dassault is at least three times more expensive than what the UPA government had negotiated in 2012, Congress leaders also accused the Modi-led government of causing losses to the public.
Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on 8 September had accused the Modi government of causing a loss of Rs 41,000 crore to the public exchequer. He demanded the reason for the extra payment of Rs 41,000 crore (increasing the cost per fighter jet from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,670 crore per aircraft).
"There is complete non-transparency, flagrant violation of mandatory provisions of the Defence Procurement Procedure, sacrificing national interest the on transfer of technology to PSU HAL and blatant promotion of financial interests of crony capitalist friends of the prime minister have marred the purchase of the aircraft," Surjewala alleged.
The BJP had maintained that the details of the deal are "classified information." The BJP also launched a counter-attack on Congress, claiming that the party was trying to "divert attention" as the party bigwigs faced the prospect of being questioned in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scandal.
BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao claimed that the Congress party was engaging in a "stunt" by raising the Rafale issue.
The stir surrounding the controversial deal finally came to a head on Wednesday with a Supreme Court hearing.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who had filed a joint plea with Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, in his comments said that that the BJP-led Centre did not meet the conditions required to go through with an inter-governmental agreement.
He claimed that the number of fighter jets was reduced from 126 to 36 because Modi wanted to give it to Reliance Industries, a company that “has no experience manufacturing aircraft and defence equipment”.
Speaking about the price of the deal, Bhushan said that the government is "hiding" behind the secrecy agreement as part of the deal, because the cost had already revealed to Parliament twice. "There cannot be any security issue regarding the pricing, when they have announced it in Parliament. It is a bogus argument," he said.
Attorney-General KK Venugopal, who spoke on behalf of the government, addressed the issue of secrecy raised by Bhushan and said that the government's secrecy over the price of the deal was justified. “The secrecy is with regard to weaponry and avionics. If these are disclosed our adversaries will be able to know about what weaponry and avionics we have,” Venugopal told the court.
After building pressure from the Congress, the Centre finally submitted the document, detailing the decisions taken to procure the aircraft, to the top court.
However, the court ruled that the pricing of the deal need not be discussed at the moment. "It needs to be debated only if the Court decides that aspects on pricing need to come into the public domain", Bar and Bench quoted Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi as saying.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2018 14:56:47 IST