The Congress on Monday submitted a memorandum on the Rafale jet deal to the Central Vigilance Committee and demanded an investigation into the matter, PTI reported. The Opposition party, which also submitted a memorandum to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India last week, has pointed out alleged irregularities in the deal by the Centre.
A delegation of senior Congress leaders submitted the memorandum to Central Vigilance Commissioner KV Chowdary. “We have demanded that the committee take cognisance of their complaint, seize all files and documents and register a first information report,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters.
The delegation accused the government of causing a loss to the exchequer and unfairly favouring “businessman friends”.
On September 21, French media outlet Mediapart quoted former French President Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed the name of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence for an offset contract with Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the jets. India’s Ministry of Defence, the French government and Dassault Aviation have contradicted his claim.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and others in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government have also refuted the Opposition party’s allegations. Jaitley said attempts were being made to create a controversy on the basis of Hollande’s statement.
“Faced with corruption exposed in Rafale scam, an unnerved, frustrated and worried Modi government is seeking shelter of Pakistan to deflect attention of the country,” claimed Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. “Was your love for Pakistan not apparent when you were indulging in ‘saree-shawl diplomacy’ while Pakistan was killing our soldiers?”
Surjewala was referring to the relationship between Modi and them Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the early days of Modi’s term as they sent gifts of sarees and shawls to each other’s mothers.
In 2012, the United Progressive Alliance government started negotiating with Dassault to buy 126 Medium Multi-Rule Combat Aircraft. According to the negotiations back then, Dassault was to supply 18 Rafale jets in fly-away condition while state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, along with the company, was to manufacture 108 aircraft in India. However, the deal did not work out.
In September 2016, India agreed to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft worth Rs 59,000 crore from France after signing the deal. Later that year, Reliance Defence joined the deal’s offset programme through Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd, in which it holds a 51% stake. Dassault Aviation owns 49% of the joint venture, which was announced in India in October 2016.