Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Rafale Deal Probe Begins Reported by French Media; Congress, BJP Spar

rahul rafale inc congress bjp probe campaign pti

French investigative website Mediapart has reported an appointment of a French judge to lead a judicial investigation into "corruption and favoritism" in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal with India. This development has led again to a war of words between Congress and the BJP.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take charge to appoint a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe for the Rafale deal. He told reporters at a press conference.

"Corruption in the Rafale deal has come out now. The Congress party and Rahul Gandhi stand have been vindicated today after the French government has ordered a probe,"

The BJP reacted sharply to the Congress demand. BJP leader Sambit Patra said,

"Congress is synonymous with lies and myths. Today they lied about the Rafale deal, again. Suppose a country's (France) NGO (Sherpa) complains against a charge, and its financial prosecution body orders a probe accordingly. In that case, it is not corruption."

He added,

"The way Rahul Gandhi is behaving, it will not be an exaggeration to say that he is being used as a pawn by companies which are competing. He has been lying right from the beginning on the issue. Probably, he is acting as an agent, or some member of Gandhi's family has been for a competing company."

He alleged that as the Gandhi family had received no commission in the Rafale deal, its party leveled these allegations.

The probe on the Rafale deal formally opened on June 14.

The Mediapart said the probe formally opened into the inter-governmental deal signed in 20216 on June 14.

The Mediapart reported the latest development on the controversial deal.

"A judicial probe into suspected corruption has been initiated in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft."

France's national financial prosecutor's (PNF) office ordered a judicial investigation following Mediapart's new reports in April of wrongdoings in the deal, as well as a complaint filed by French NGO Sherpa that specializes in financial crime.

Mediapart journalist Yann Philippin, who tweeted a series of reports on the deal, said that the first complaint was "buried" by a former PNF chief.

In April, Mediapart, investigated by the country's anti-corruption agency, reported that Dassault Aviation had renumbered about 1 million Euros to an Indian middleman.

Dassault Aviation has denied the allegations of corruption, saying no violations were reported in the frame of the contract.

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The Rafale Deal

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The National Democratic Alliance had signed a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016. It was to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation. After a prolonged seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), the Indian Air Force is making a success during the United Progressive Alliance jurisdiction.

Congress accused the government of massive irregularities in the deal, alleging that it was procuring each aircraft at the cost of over Rs 1,670 crore against Rs 526 crore finalized by the UPA government negotiations MMRCA.

Before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, Congress questioned the deal and alleged corruption, but the government rejected all the charges. Congress again demands the JPC probe.

The Congress on Saturday demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale Deal.

Addressing a press conference virtually, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said,

"The scandalous expose of Rafale scam involving corruption, treason, loss to public exchequer has finally been uncovered."

He said that Congress and former party chief Rahul Gandhi stand vindicated today.

He said that if former French President Francois Hollande and current President Emmanuel Macron are being investigated, why not the Indian former defense minister and examination of the Indian company.

He said that the media outlet in France had revealed the deal between Dassault and an Indian company that constituted a joint venture.

He said,

"This substantiates the statement made by then-President Francois Hollande, who said that the decision to appoint an Indian company as Dassault's industrial partner was of the Indian government, meaning the Modi government. And the French had no choice into the matter."

He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a deal worth 7.8 billion euro to buy 36 Rafale jets in place of 126 fighter jets.

Surjewala pointed out that the French government deleted the anti-corruption clause. He added,

"The defects now clearly call for a JPC probe,"
(With inputs from agencies)

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