“This is the biggest scam of the world. We are demanding the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the Rafale deal,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the Rajya Sabha today.
The chaos caused by the opposition in the Parliament even adjourned the debate on Triple Talaq. The controversy is not new. In November 2016, the opposition accused the government of causing “insurmountable loss” of taxpayers’ money. They even termed ‘Make in India’ a failure. They bestowed another allegation which claimed that the Ambanis had been unfairly picked to be the French firm Dassault’s Indian partner.
Congress repeatedly attacked the government and demanded details of the deal done. They even boasted that UPA government, earlier, negotiated the aircraft at one-third of this price.
The Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Parliament earlier this week that the details of the deal with France for the Rafale fighter jets cannot be disclosed as per the inter-governmental agreement as it is “classified information”.
On August 8, Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie teamed up with activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan. In the statement, they assert that the Rafale fighter aircraft deal was the “biggest defense scam ever”, and accused the BJP-led Centre of “compromising national security”.
Shourie said the deal was a “scandal much bigger than Bofors” and needs an urgent forensic audit to fix accountability. He said the secrecy clause in the agreement with France only binds India from revealing the technical specifications and operational capabilities of the aircraft but does not restrain the government from disclosing the price.
Quoting a February 16, 2017 press release by French manufacturer Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence, and a financial press release statement of Dassault for 2016, Bhushan, Shourie, and Sinha said the total price of 36 aircraft is about ₹60,000 crore, which works out to be ₹1,660 crore per plane.
Today, protests over the NDA’s Rafale deal erupted outside the parliament. Protest and Congress leader, Sonia Gandhi, demands a probe on the last day of the Monsoon Session. Opposition leaders, including Raj Babbar, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni, CPI’s D Raja, AAP’s Sushil Gupta among others were seen holding placards that said, “We demand JPC”, “Modi Corruption Exposed”, Rafale Cover-Up Out In the Open” etc.
Disclosing defense deals publicly is against the ethics and compromise the National security. But, if the deal is so fair, then why isn’t the government going for JPC? Continuously attacking the Achilles heel of the government is the proven tactic in political warfare. The opposition won’t roll out from this demand.
Ignoring the political angle, the deal is a failure of the government. Neither the demand for 126 aircraft of the aging fleet was satisfied nor the technology was exchanged to build more such aircraft in the future. Moreover, Reliance begging this project further maligned the image of the government further.