Irregularities in Rafale jet deal will be major poll plan in upcoming Lok Sabha polls: Prithviraj Chavan

Prithviraj Chavan said alleged irregularities in the Rafale fighter jet deal will a major poll plank of his party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Press Trust of India December 20, 2018 21:43:52 IST
Irregularities in Rafale jet deal will be major poll plan in upcoming Lok Sabha polls: Prithviraj Chavan

Indore: Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday said alleged irregularities in the Rafale fighter jet deal will a major poll plank of his party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

He said the Supreme Court verdict in the mega defence deal can't be interpreted as a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government since the apex court was not an investigating agency.

The Modi government is running a campaign to give an impression that the Supreme Court has given it a clean chit in the Rafale deal, the former Maharashtra chief minister told reporters in Indore.

Irregularities in Rafale jet deal will be major poll plan in upcoming Lok Sabha polls Prithviraj Chavan

File image of Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan. AFP

"But we dont take the decision as a clean chit at all as the apex court is not an investigation agency," he added.

"The issue has not ended yet. It is going to be one of the major poll planks for the Congress in the next year's general elections," the former Union minister added.

He said in the inter-governmental agreement, the Modi government has agreed to pay Rs 36,000 crore more to France for buying Rafale jets which is a violation of existing norms.

The higher purchasing price for the fighter jets will also affect the government's coffers, Chavan said.

"Junior Defence Minister Subhash Bamre, while replying to a question in Parliament, had said the governments of India and France decided the price of a Rafale jet at Rs 670 crore."

"The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar went to France and announced that it has been decided to buy 36 fighter jets for Rs 60,000 crore. This means the price of one fighter jet climbed up from Rs 670 crore to Rs 1,670 crore," the Congress leader said.

"Our allegation is straight — the rise in cost by Rs 1,000 crore smacks of corruption," Chavan said.

"The CBI or a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) should probe into the Rs 36,000-crore irregularities," he added.

Chavan said the ministers who are members of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) should "break their silence" over the Rafale deal.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Modi government have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the Rafale deal.

Earlier this month, the SC had dismissed the petitions challenging the deal, saying there was no occasion to "really doubt the decision-making process" warranting setting aside of the contract.

The apex court rejected the pleas, which sought lodging of an FIR and a court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000-crore deal.

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