Govt unlikely to accept oppn demand for JPC probe into Rafale deal
24 September 2018
The Narendra Modi government is not likely to accept the opposition's demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal, amid an ongoing political slugfest over the India-France defence deal.
Reports quoting official sources said the centre is in no mood to call a JPC probe into the Rafale controversy despite extreme pressure from the Congress-led opposition.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh indicated this when he said there is no room for doubt after former French president Francois Hollande's 'clarification' on the Rafale deal.
"After clarifications from Hollande, there is no room for any doubt about the deal. The Congress is making it an issue to gain political mileage in 2019 Lok Sabha polls," Singh said.
Hollande, who was French president when the Rs58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication 'Mediapart' that France was given "no choice" on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance as offset partner for the French aerospace giant.
"The opposition does not have any issue left so it is raking up Rafale deal issue," the home minister told reporters after a meeting of the Central Zonal Council.
Meanwhile, a delegation of senior Congress leaders met the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and demanded registration of a case in alleged corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
A Congress delegation had earlier met the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and urged the apex auditor to prepare a report on the alleged irregularities in the deal and present it in Parliament.
The delegation met CVC KV 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 favour of some businessman "friends" for offset contract.
"Rafale scam has now emerged as India's biggest defence scam. Tracks of corruption are getting unravelled by the day with repeated disclosures getting no answers from the defence ministry of the government of the day. The stench of corruption and cronyism in the Rafale deal is nauseating, requiring urgent intervention by your goodself," the Congress memorandum to the CVC said.
The memorandum said that as per law, the government is bound to provide full information to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), "entire deal, its contours, nature of contract, absence of favouritism, corruption, crony capitalism, violation of law and procedures and the principles of level playing field are part of CVC's domain to examine and to return a finding".
"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 public exchequer is brought out as the earliest," it further said.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi later told reporters that there are no answers with the government to various questions raised on the deal and no one is telling why the whole procedure took place in a reverse order.
"Why was a contract of Rs 30,000 crore given to a company that is on the verge of bankruptcy? How can they sideline a company like HAL?" he said.
The Congress has alleged that the fresh deal for Rafale fighter jets was inked by the Narendra Modi dispensation at a cost much higher than what was negotiated by the previous government led by it.