Congress wants CVC to step in Rafael issue
The Congress on Monday intensified its offensive against the Modi government on Rafale issue by petitioning the Central Vigilance Commissioner to register a case of alleged corruption and seize all documents relating to the deal.
The opposition party also released videos of Dassault CEO Eric Trappier and India's former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, both suggesting that the Rafale deal was on with public-sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as its partner, a few days before the deal for 36 fighter jets was finalized on April 10, 2015.
"I strongly believe a contract finalization and signature could come very soon," Abhishek Singhvi said quoting Trappier.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi also fired a fresh salvo at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale jet deal, charging that the country's "chowkidar" Narendra Modi snatched money away from the poor and handed it over to industrialist Anil Ambani.
Gandhi demanded answers from the prime minister on several issues relating to the Rafale jet fighter deal.
"The chowkidar of the country has taken out Rs 20,000 crore from the pockets of the poor, martyrs and the jawans and put it in the pocket of (Anil)Ambani," Gandhi said at a meeting in Jais area of his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi.
"Why was the price not disclosed...how was the contract was given to(Anil) Ambani... serious charges have been leveled by former French president Francois Hollande," he said.
He also released a video of a French media portal in connection with the Rafale fighter jet deal.
"The sad truth about India's Commander in Thief," Gandhi said on Twitter, in an apparent attack on Modi and tagged the video along with his tweet.
The video targets the Modi government on the Rafale deal and quoted the editor of Mediapart, a French media house, that published a story Friday quoting Hollande as saying it was the Indian government that "proposed" Reliance Defence as the partner of Dassault Aviation for Rafale offset contracts.
"The key sentence in his reply is 'We did not have a choice'", the Mediapart editor said quoting Hollande.
A delegation of Congress leaders met CVC K V Chowdary and submitted a detailed memorandum, accusing the government of causing loss to the public exchequer and endangering national security by bypassing state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in favor of some businessman "friends" for offset contract.
"Rafale scam has now emerged as India's biggest defense scam. Tracks of corruption are getting unraveled 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 by your good self," the Congress said.
The memorandum said the government is bound to disclose the price of 36 aircraft to scrutiny by CVC in light of the serious allegations of corruption and loss of money to the public exchequer.
"We, therefore, request the CVC to undertake its statutory duty by examining record threadbare, so that corruption, crony capitalism, violation of law and procedure and loss to the public exchequer is brought out as the earliest," it said.
The government has rejected the Congress' allegations.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "The Government has been lying and hiding. We have, therefore, demanded the CVC to take cognizance, to seize all files and documents and to register an FIR."
He sought registration of a case and asked the CVC to act immediately as there "were fears that after"this big scam the government will try and destroy all evidence" and this files and documents need to be taken into custody.
Addressing a press conference, Singhvi said while the party is not against the Rafale aircraft as such, but if corruption is found out the deal will either have to be canceled or the jets bought at a fresh price.
"At least start the work of probing the corruption. How can you allow corruption and still buy at the same price? You will have to either cancel the deal or buy the jets a fresh price. At least, give a notice, give a warning, seize the documents and start the work of probing," he told reporters.
Singhvi said the 'Rafale saga' gets murkier by the minute and "like quicksand, it sucks the government into a quagmire each time the government tries to respond or say something and each time it exposes the prevarication of the Government more and more".
"How silly can we get is about all that I can say," he said on the charge that the Congress was in "collusion" with former French President, and said it was like "insulting the intelligence" of Indians.
Taking strong objection to the statement of Arun Jaitley that the CAG will look at the price and decide on whether the deal will be canceled, he said: "it is highly objectionable".
"There is a clear direction, message, indication in that statement trying to tell the CAG what to do.
"The words of the Minister let the cat out of the bag because they are pre-judgment and pre-decision," Singhvi claimed.