BJP’s Attempts to Cover Up Rafale Scam have Spectacularly Failed
The BJP has gone to the extent of even lying to the Supreme Court in order to get a clean chit.
The month of December usually heralds the season to be merry but in India it is the season to be wary of the lies that BJP continues to resort to in order to save its own political space. As the voices across the country get louder on the Rafale scam and are asking questions of the PM, the BJP has made yet another attempt to change the narrative. But the ruling party is failing at it rather spectacularly.
The BJP has gone to the extent of even lying to the Supreme Court in order to get a clean chit, however, it is now established that they are clean cheaters!
The Congress party has insisted on constituting a Joint Parliamentary Committee ever since several instances of grave wrongdoing in the Rafale deal came in the public domain. One must keep in mind that any decision taken by wielding executive power by the government has to be examined in Parliament. While the Supreme Court cannot summon and examine all the file notings, examine witnesses on oath, question the prime minister or other Defence Ministry officials or accept other evidence, a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is constitutionally mandated to do so, if the need arises. It is a feature of our parliamentary system which has been invoked repeatedly by the BJP when it was in the Opposition.
Supreme Court in its verdict conceded that it was not the appropriate forum and could not decide the issue of pricing, specifications and technical suitability in Paras 12, 15, 33 and 34. However, an important paragraph, number 25, which forms the basis of the judgment exposes BJP’s evil, fraudulent and duplicitous intent and its dubious submissions to the Honourable court. In Para 25, the Supreme Court refers to CAG report, its examination by PAC and CAG report being in ‘Public Domain’.
There is a slight hitch though, there is NO CAG Report. The chairman of the PAC has stated that neither has the PAC received a CAG report, nor has it been discussed or presented to the Parliament.
The other important paragraph that highlights BJP’s false narrative is para 32 in which the Supreme Court records, on the basis of Central government submissions, that there was a continuing Agreement between Reliance and Dassault Aviation for offset contracts since the year 2012. However, Reliance Defence Ltd. was incorporated on March 28th, 2015 and its subsidiary company Reliance Aerostructure Ltd. (referred to by the Supreme Court) was incorporated on April 24th, 2015. Hence, Reliance Defence came into existence 13 days before PM Modi announced the purchase of aircraft and Reliance Aerostructure came into existence 14 days thereafter.
There is also no categorical denial either from both sides of the French President, Francois Hollande’s statement that Indian Government left them with no choice but to select Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as Offset Partner. The same paragraph has said that no specific role of HAL was envisaged which again is an inaccuracy fed by the central government because there was a work share Agreement signed on March 13th, 2014 between HAL and Dassault Aviation for executing the offset contract. So, there was a specifically written relationship. Even on March 25th, 2015 (barely 14 days before PM Modi announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft) Dassault CEO had visited the HAL factory in the presence of the Indian Air Force Chief and had confirmed the relationship of offsets between HAL and Dassault on the Rafale deal.
These are major inconsistencies which lend credence to the belief that something is rotten in the ‘state of Denmark’ which is being deliberately hidden from the people of this country. Only a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe will be able to get to the bottom of this scam. The sheer brazenness of the BJP in trying all the dirty tricks to stall JPC points to its guilt, whose wires go straight to the top.
Here are the questions which remain unanswered:
1. Why the price of Rafale jets was increased three times over causing a loss of Rs 41,205 Crore of Indian taxpayers hard earned money?
2. Why HAL was denied Rs 30,000 Cr Offset Contract to favour Reliance Defence and Reliance Aerostructure Ltd. that has zero experience of manufacturing fighter aircraft as against forty years of experience of HAL?
3. Why did the prime minister bypass the Defence Procurement Procedure, Cabinet Committee on Security & Defence Acquisition Council?
4. Why did the prime minister in a hurry to sign the deal reduce the number of aircraft India required, it reduced the needed 126 aircraft to 26 aircraft- to a 1/3rd of what was needed by the Indian Air Force?
5. Why did the PM abandon the “Transfer of Technology” clause that would help India become more self-reliant in defence manufacturing?
6. Why did PM Modi compromise on India’s national interest by waiving off ‘Sovereign Guarantee’ and instead settle for a ‘Letter of Comfort’ which will not stand any legal scrutiny in any court across the globe?
The Modi government has a serious credibility crisis in its hand and the losses in the three important Hindi heartland states should be a warning that the public that voted them into power can also vote them out of power if they refuse to hold themselves accountable for the decisions that they take on behalf of the electorate.
Priyanka Chaturvedi is the National Convenor-Communication and National Spokesperson of the Indian National Congress. She tweets at @priyankac19.