₹59,000-cr Rafale deal back in the spotlight as France orders probe

The Congress has demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Rafale deal while the BJP says Rahul is being used as a pawn by defence companies

India as the third largest military spender in the world

The controversial Rafale deal is back in the political limelight after France has ordered an investigation into the ₹59,000-cr Rafale deal.

The Congress has 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 had been appointed to lead a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into alleged “corruption and favouritism” in the defence deal with India.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi should order the investigation, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Saturday. “Corruption in the Rafale deal has come out clearly now. The stand of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi has been vindicated today after the French government ordered a probe,” Surjewala said.

Also read: All you need to know about the Rafale deal

Upping the ante, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter, and tweeted: “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. – Lord Buddha.”

Meanwhile, the BJP alleged that Rahul Gandhi is acting as an agent of rival defence companies and being used as a “pawn”, and also claimed he and the Congress keep raking up allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal in an attempt to “weaken” India.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also played down the appointment of a judge in France to lead a judicial investigation into the alleged corruption and favouritism in the ₹59,000-crore deal, saying the development was the outcome of a complaint by an NGO and should not be seen as a matter of corruption.

This is akin to a competent authority in India writing down in a file that “please act accordingly” when a matter is brought before him, Patra said and accused the Congress of spreading lies and misconceptions over the issue. The Congress has become synonymous with spreading lies and misconceptions, he said.

Also read: SC’s Rafale verdict does not help transparency in arms purchase

“The way Rahul Gandhi is behaving, it will not be an exaggeration to say that he is being used as a pawn by competing companies. He has been lying right from the beginning on the issue. Probably, he is acting as an agent or some member of Gandhi family has been for a competing company,” Patra alleged. Patra alleged that as the Gandhi family had received no commission in the Rafale deal, its party had been levelling these allegations.

The government won a judicial verdict as well as an electoral verdict, he said in reference to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in which the BJP notched up a massive victory with the Congress making the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal a key plank of its campaign against the Modi government.

The BJP spokesperson noted that the Supreme Court had in its verdict in November 2019 said that there can’t be a roving and fishing enquiry pertaining to the Rafale allegations, and accused Gandhi of going on another “fishing expedition” with his party attacking the government.

The Congress is also using the issue to divert attention from political instability hitting its governments in Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, he claimed.

(With Agency inputs)

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