Stepping up its attack on the government over the Rafale offset contract to Reliance Defence, the Congress Monday approached the Central Vigilance Commissioner, demanding that the vigilance panel “seize all files and documents” and register an FIR into “India’s biggest defence scam”.
And in Amethi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi told a crowd that the UPA government had “finalised the contact” to purchase 126 Rafale aircraft and that “would have given employment to thousands of youth at the HAL factories in Amethi and Karnataka but when a chowkidar became Prime Minister, he snatched the contract from HAL and gave it to a private company”.
He said he questioned the Prime Minister on the Rafale offset contract being awarded “to a company formed just ten days before the contract, a company which already had a loan of Rs 45,000 crore, no past experience” but the Prime Minister “could not look me in the eye”.
“Jaise maine Narendra Modiji ki aankh mein aankh milayi… Narendra Modi kabhi idhar dekhe kabhi udhar… Desh ke chowkidar ne Hindustan ke jawano se, Hindustan ke shaheedon ke jeb mein se 30,000 crore rupay nikaal kar Anil Ambani ke jeb mei dala hai… isliye desh ka chowkidar meri aankh nahi mila paya (The moment I looked Narendra Modi in the eye, he started looking here and there. The chowkidar of this country took Rs 30,000 crore from the pockets of soldiers and martyrs and put it in the pocket of Anil Ambani… that is why he couldn’t look me in the eye),” Rahul Gandhi said.
In New Delhi, a Congress delegation met Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary and sought a thorough scrutiny of the Rafale deal, alleging that it caused loss to the exchequer and endangered national security. The party claimed there had been “illegal and undue benefit to crony friends” and violation of mandatory provisions of the Defence Procurement Procedure.
“We asked the CVC to take cognizance of the matter… to seize all files and documents and to register an FIR,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said.
“Tracks of corruption are getting unravelled by the day with repeated disclosures getting no answers from the Defence Ministry… The stench of corruption and cronyism in the Rafale deal is nauseating, requiring urgent intervention of your good self ,” the party said in its memorandum.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said “on March 25, 2015, Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, had said that ‘negotiations with HAL are at an advanced stage, signature stage will come very soon. On April 8, 2015, two days before the Prime Minister was in France, then Foreign Secretary Jaishankar clearly suggested that Rafale is not on the negotiation between the two countries… And two days later, on April 10, the PM announced the 36-aircraft new deal. The tender floated by the UPA government had not been cancelled. It was scrapped three months later. The Cabinet Committee on Security had not met and the Defence Procurement Procedure was not followed.” The Congress released videos of statements made by Trappier and Jaishankar.
In its memorandum, the Congress alleged “deliberate enrichment of private entity, Reliance Defence, at the cost of HAL, by award of a Rs 30,000-crore offset contract, as also Rs one lakh crore Life Cycle Contract without any tender and without following any mandatory requirement of the DPP tell a story of stark crony capitalism that needs to be investigated”.
The Congress said the government is duty-bound to provide full information to the CVC. The “entire deal, its contours, nature of contract, absence of favouritism, corruption, crony capitalism, violation of law and procedures and the principles of level-playing field are all part of the CVC’s domain to examine and to return a finding,” it said.