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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Rafale deal: CPI(M) joins Congress call for JPC probe

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said on Sunday that a French judge being appointed to look into the allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal means Rahul Gandhi’s stand on the matter has been vindicated.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 4, 2021 11:39:00 pm
Rafale dealAntony alleged that "prima facie corruption in the Rafale deal is now apparent", as the French Public Prosecution Services has now appointed a judge to investigate "corruption." (File photo)

On a day senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stepped up his attack on the government over the Rafale deal, the CPI(M) joined his call for a JPC probe, saying that the French judicial probe initiated into the deal reconfirms apprehensions that “PM Modi’s turnaround from the earlier purchase agreement is mired in deep corruption and money laundering”.

Gandhi had Sunday put out a ‘survey’ on Twitter, asking people to decide why the Modi government was opposed to a JPC probe on the Rafale deal. Among the choices given as answers to the question were “guilty conscience”, “saving friends”, “JPC does not want a Rajya Sabha seat” and all the above.

This comes a day after the Congress had demanded a JPC probe into the Rafale deal following French media reports stating that authorities in France have initiated a judicial probe into allegations of corruption in the sale of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to India.

French website Mediapart, which ran a series of reports in April this year on the 2016 inter-governmental deal, reported that a judge had been appointed for a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into alleged “corruption and favouritism” in the deal.

It further stated that a “judicial probe into suspected corruption has been opened in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft”.

The probe, Mediapart said, had been initiated by the national financial prosecutors’ office.

The Congress has demanded a JPC probe into the Rafale deal, alleging corruption in the purchase of the fighter jets, and said such an investigation is the only way forward to find the truth.

Targetting the Modi government over the Rafale deal, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram stated that events and facts related to the deal are tumbling “out of the cupboard one by one”. He tweeted, “If there is no mystery, why not tell the whole story in one sitting?”

Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted out a press statement on Sunday stating that one of the decisions taken at the Left party’s Polit Bureau meeting on June 3 was to raise the demand for a JPC probe into the Rafale deal. The French judicial probe initiated into the deal “reconfirms the apprehensions raised by the CPI(M) that PM Modi’s turnaround from the earlier purchase agreement, is mired in deep corruption and money laundering”, the press statement said.

It added, “The Polit Bureau reiterates its demand raised in September 2018 for the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the role of the Prime Minister and the government in this whole episode and establish the truth of the deal.”

Stepping up the heat on the Centre, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said on Sunday that a French judge being appointed to look into the allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal means Rahul Gandhi’s stand on the matter has been vindicated.

The LoP, Rajya Sabha’s official handle tweeted, “In 2016, PM @narendramodi compromised national security & signed a deal for 36 jets instead of the 126 requested by @IAF_MCC for 7 squadrons. This pushed the price of each aircraft up by 41.42% & the price of each aircraft increased from Rs 526 Crores to Rs 1670 Crores.”

In a series of tweets, it further added, “In 2018, Mr. Francois Hollande said that Reliance’s selection as Dassault’s partner was only GOI’s decision. Dassault pledged up to 159 million euros i.e. 94% of the funds for 49% stake in DRAL while Reliance was given the majority 51% stake for only 10 million euros! As per the confidential partnership agreement, the sole purpose of Ambani’s firm was “marketing for programs and services with the GOI” i.e. to exert political influence & clout with the @BJP4India Govt. Was Anil Ambani being used as a lobbyist for foreign interests? In 2019, the then CJI dismissed the need for an inquiry into the Rafale deal. However, the new revelations have substantiated the doubts regarding the dubious deal. A JPC must be immediately constituted to probe the matter.”

Earlier, when Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, while citing French media reports, had said that Rahul Gandhi’s oft-repeated allegations of corruption in the deal were correct, the BJP had dismissed the claims as “baseless”.

Trying to address the allegations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said, “Why is the Congress again talking about the Rafale issue? The Supreme Court and the CAG have found nothing wrong in the deal. Congress made it a big issue ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 but lost badly. A French journal has published the issue. We have to take into consideration the issue of corporate rivalry in France. The report has named (middleman) Sushen Gupta who was arrested in the AgustaWestland scam. Salman Khurshid had publicly said that he knew Gupta.”

“If we had the Rafale fleet, it would have been of great help during the Balakot strike. Congress had asked for proof after Uri and Balakot strikes. They shouldn’t try to destabilise the willpower of the defence forces of the nation,” he had added.

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