Congress heightens attack over Rafale, moves CVC
Mounting a multi-pronged attack on the BJP government, the Congress on Monday moved the CVC seeking an FIR and seizure of documents pertaining to the Rafale deal while its President Rahul Gandhi called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "thief".
On a day when a Congress delegation petitioned Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K.V. Chowdary seeking a probe into the "corruption" in the deal, Gandhi, in his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi, launched a virulent attack on Modi saying the country's "chowkidar" (watchman) had committed "chori" (theft).
"I raised it (Rafale issue) in Parliament and Modi could not make eye-to-eye contact. Why did you purchase the fighter jets at three times the price?
"The country's watchman indulged in theft," said Gandhi, adding the "watchman" took out Rs 30,000 crore from the pockets of soldiers and martyrs and gave it to an industrialist.
"Modi can speak about everything but not Rafale. He does not have the guts," he said, questioning Modi's persisted silence on the issue despite repeated charges against him.
Gandhi also posted a video on twitter highlighting French President Francois Hollande's revelation to a French website that a private firm became a partner of Dassault Aviation at the suggestion of the Indian government.
Earlier, a Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Congress delegation met the CVC seeking for a probe into the Rafale deal, saying Modi had escalated its price of about 300 percent and in violation of the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP).
It urged the CVC to take cognizance and register an FIR and seize all the relevant documents "before they were destroyed".
The party also quoted revelations by Hollande, saying he has "exposed the web of corruption".
"The stench of corruption and cronyism in the Rafale deal is nauseating, requiring urgent intervention," the party said and endorsed former Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) chief T.S. Raju's call for making public the files relating to HAL's work-share contract with Dassault.
The Congress also targeted Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying their insistence on non-disclosure of the purchase price of the jets "reeks of a huge scam".
The move to the CVC follows the Congress approaching the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for a special and forensic audit. It also comes amidst an intense political dogfight between the Congress and the BJP-led government over the deal.
Later, in a media conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused the government of compromising India's friendly ties with France by alleging a "collusion" between Hollande and Gandhi.
It also alleged that the Modi regime was trying to influence the CAG.
"For the BJP, even India-France relations will be a grist to their mill, doesn't matter if they (ties with France) are a causality as long as they try and score ridiculous debating points," said Singhvi.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday suggested a link between a tweet by Gandhi on Rafale and Hollande's subsequent revelation and sought to discredit the former French president by citing conflicting media reports about his claims.
The Congress took strong umbrage to Jaitley's assertions that the "CAG would study the pricing and take a view on whether the NDA government's deal was better than the one UPA was negotiating".
"How can any minister of the Modi government say what the CAG will do? This is a clear direction, a message, an indication, trying to tell the CAG what to do, how much to do and what it should not do," said Singhvi expressing apprehension that the CVC may also be influenced in a similar manner.