Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday said that a demand to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale deal was made before the Supreme Court decision dismissing all petitions seeking a probe into the matter, and suggested that the court decision should now be respected.
Akhilesh’s statement goes against the Congress, which stood firm on its demand for a JPC probe, saying that the verdict had vindicated its stand that the issue of corruption in the deal cannot be decided by the court and the government must set up a JPC to probe the deal.
“I think the Supreme Court is above all. We demanded a JPC when the matter was not in the Supreme Court. Now, when the Supreme Court has given its decision taking up every point into consideration, if anyone has any objection then they should go and knock on the Supreme Court’s door,” said Akhilesh, speaking to the media in Lucknow while flagging off his party’s four-day ‘Samajwadi Vision Evam Vikas Padyatra’.
“Our padyatra (march) is of truth while the BJP’s yatra is of deceit. The BJP people are busy installing statues. Initially, they were just applying colours here and there (referring to government buildings painted saffron) and then they started changing names of everything. We started the expressway. We made the stadium (Ekana cricket stadium, later renamed Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Antar-rashtriya Cricket Stadium) and started the metro train in Lucknow. The BJP’s colour changed with the recent elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” said Akhilesh.
The Trinamool Congress has maintained silence on the Rafale verdict. Party leaders said off the record that the party is with the Congress “in spirit” but “it was never really our issue”.
“We are with the Congress on this morally… we have been raising the issues we feel strongly about, such as the attack on institutions like CBI and RBI, and farmers’ woes. This has always been something the Congress has raised and we are with them… The opposition is a united body,” said a Trinamool leader.
Trinamool’s reluctance to come out and congratulate the Congress has sparked speculation that the Congress’s recent performance has not gone down well with the ruling party in West Bengal.
BSP chief Mayawati had on Friday said the Supreme Court order may come as a relief for the central government. She also said there was a need for fundamental reforms at the government level in defence-related deals.
Mayawati had said that it would be appropriate in the national interest that the central government make a “long-term and transparent policy” for defence procurement deals, taking alliance parties and prominent opposition parties into confidence and follow that policy honestly so that public apprehensions, allegations of corruption in defence procurement deals and maligning of the country’s image could be avoided.