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Monday, May 17, 2021

Media report on ‘middleman’ in Rafale deal: Cong targets govt

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit out at the Prime Minister, putting out near-identical tweets and asking him to answer.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: April 10, 2021 8:34:56 am
RKS Bhadauria, Rafale, France, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria, Rafale deal, Rafale news, Rafale fighter jets, French Air Force, Indian air force, india news, indian expressThe Rafale jet is manufactured by French company Dassault. (File Photo)

The Congress on Friday attacked the government over the 2015 deal for the Rafale jets after a French media outlet reported that a middleman had supplied confidential documents relating to internal deliberations of the Indian negotiating team to Dassault Aviation – the manufacturer of the fighter aircraft.

The Congress attack on the government came after French online investigative journal Mediapart reported that Sushen Gupta, chargesheeted by the Enforcement Directorate in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, had supplied classified documents to Dassault Aviation on the activities of the Indian negotiating team.

The outlet had earlier reported that Dassault Aviation had paid at least Euros 508,925 against an invoice for Euro 1 million raised by an Indian firm controlled by Gupta.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit out at the Prime Minister, putting out near-identical tweets and asking him to answer “who took money in the Rafale corruption scandal, who deleted the anti-corruption clauses in the contract and who gave middlemen access to key Defence Ministry documents”.

Meanwhile, Congress communication department in-charge Randeep Surjewala reiterated the party’s demand for an independent probe into the Rafale deal, alleging that the latest disclosures have confirmed that that there was “massive corruption”, “treason”, “loss of at least around Rs 21,000 crores to the public exchequer” and “criminal breach of national security” in the aircraft deal.

Surjewala asked whether it was correct that the ED had recovered “secret Defence Ministry documents” from Gupta during a raid on March 26, 2019. Quoting the Mediapart report, Surjewala said the documents recovered from Gupta included the “benchmark price document” of September 2015, the “record of discussions” by the Indian negotiating team, the “excel sheet of calculations” made by the Defence Ministry and competitor firm Eurofighter’s counter offer of a 20 per cent discount to the government.

“Isn’t this treason? Why did the Modi government then not take action against Dassault, the political executive or the Defence Ministry officers who leaked the documents?” he asked.

Surjewala also pointed out that the Defence Ministry had insisted on an anti-corruption clause in the inter-governmental agreement — which was opposed by the French government and Dassault Aviation.

“Were the anti-corruption clauses deleted to escape responsibility from bribery and commission to be paid in the Rafale deal? Why was the deletion of anti-corruption clauses approved by the Prime Minister and the Government despite the Defence Ministry’s insistence upon including it in the inter-governmental agreement?” the Congress leader said.

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