The Congress on Wednesday said a case should be filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the Prevention of Corruption Act for alleged misuse of office in connection with the Rafale fighter jet deal signed with France.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala raised doubts about the cost of the deal as claimed by the Modi government. In a press release, the party showed calculations to estimate that the country would end up paying €10.3 billion (Rs 81,800 crore at current rate) for 36 Rafale aircraft, instead of the €7.9 billion that the government had claimed.
“It is now crystal clear that the Prime Minister misled the Parliament and duped the country to cover up the murky dealings and blatant corruption, besides, squandering away national security interests,” the Congress said. “It is undoubtedly established that Shri Modi misused his office as Prime Minister to grant undue benefit to Dassault Aviation and caused a loss to public exchequer.”
Alleging “blatant and massive corruption”, the party said the “time has now come to register an FIR against PM Modi and every other individual [involved]”.
The Congress cited a report published by The Hindu earlier in the day, which claimed that the lack of bank guarantees while signing the deal had cost the Modi government €246.11 million more than the deal that was negotiated by the previous Congress-led regime. This was because Modi had done away with the condition of bank guarantees to benefit Dassault Aviation, the Congress claimed. Dassault Aviation is the manufacturer of the Rafale jets.
In December 2018, the Supreme Court had dismissed petitions seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the Rafale deal. However, in February, The Hindu published multiple revelations about the deal that were unfavourable towards the government. This has prompted new allegations against the government in recent weeks.
Petitions seeking the review of the verdict were filed in the top court, and were heard on Wednesday. The Centre, however, told the Supreme Court that the review petitions should be dismissed because they were based on documents “stolen” from the Ministry of Defence. The court will continue hearing the case on March 14.