The Congress demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Rafale deal, saying it is the only way forward to find the truth about “corruption” in the purchase of the fighter jets.
The Congress’ demand came after French investigative website Mediapart reported that a French judge has been appointed to lead a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into alleged “corruption and favouritism” in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal with India.
The French judge has been appointed to lead a judicial investigation into alleged corruption and favouritism in the 7.8 billion euro sale to India of 36 fighter aircraft.
The French public prosecution agency has ordered an investigation into the alleged corruption in the defence deal, he said and urged Prime Minister Modi to come forward and order the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters, said since the matter deals with national security and identity, a fair and independent JPC probe is the only way out and not the Supreme Court.
“When the French government has accepted that there is corruption in the deal, should a JPC probe be not held in the country where the corruption took place,” he asked.
BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra on Sunday criticised the Congress for raising questions over the Rafale deal.
Is it because the Gandhi family did not get their desired ‘commission’?” asked BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
Analysts says, if congress has not got any kick back amount, weather BJP took all the Kick back amount. However, Patra said it does not sound well when the Congress party accuses others of jeopardising national security.
The Congress should answer as to why for 10 years, despite a depleted squadron strength of the Indian Air Force, the Congress government didn’t procure the much-needed Rafael fighter planes? Is it because the Gandhi family didn’t get their desired ‘commission’.
The Congress has sought to know that now that the French Public Prosecution Services (PNF) has initiated a probe into the corruption allegations against the previous president of France, who was one of the parties to the deal, why is no enquiry being ordered on the role of the key functionaries of the Indian government?
While Dassault Aviation has yet to react to the latest developments, the company has consistently denied any wrongdoing and maintained that it “acts in strict compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and national laws”.
Mediapart noted that Dassault had said, “Numerous controls are carried out by official organizations, including the French Anti-Corruption Agency. No violations were reported, notably in the frame of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales.”
Role of Anil Ambani under the scanner
Given the central role played by Anil Ambani’s Reliance group – Dassault’s Indian partner in the deal for the 36 aircraft – the probe is likely to also examine the nature of the association between the two companies.
India and Dassault had officially been negotiating terms for the purchase and manufacture of 126 Rafale jets right up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s publicly announced decision – on April 10, 2015 – to scrap that deal and replace it with the outright purchase of 36 fighters. While Manohar Parrikar, India’s defence minister at the time, was unaware of Modi’s decision until the very end, it now appears Anil Ambani may have had an inkling of it.
In a sensational new revelation, Mediapart reported that the first MoU between Dassault and Anil Ambani’s company was actually signed on March 26, 2015:
“Documents seen by Mediapart show that Dassault and Reliance had in fact signed their first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – a document setting out broad outlines of an agreement – on March 26th 2015. That was 15 days before Modi’s announcement of the turnaround, and the exclusion of HAL, and begs the question as to whether the two companies had been informed of it in advance.”
The MoU allowed for a “possible joint venture” between the two companies to include “program and project management”, “research and development”, “design and engineering”, “assembly and manufacture”, “maintenance” et “training”. Though Dassault was still in talks with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for execution of the original contract for 126 Rafales, the new MoU was silent about any association or involvement with HAL.