BJP-Congress fight it out over fresh kickback row in Rafale deal

The two parties traded charges over corruption, kickbacks and attempted cover up

Sambit Patra
Sambit Patra said the Congress is answerable because the CBI has been accused of failing to act at a time when the UPA was in power.

A French journal’s damning revelation, accusing the Government of India (between 2007 and 2012), of failing to investigate Rafale kickbacks, has given fresh ammo to the BJP to train its guns at the Congress and the Gandhis.

Investigative portal Mediapart on Monday (November 8) claimed that French aircraft manufacturer Dassault paid India middleman, Sushen Gupta, € 7.5 million (₹ 64.5 crore) in kickbacks to conclude the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets and CBI failed to act despite having proof.

BJP’s Sambit Patra said the Congress is answerable because the CBI has been accused of failing to act at a time when the UPA was in power. “The documents say Dassault, which was been described as D, paid €7.5 million or ₹65 crore as a commission to a middleman for 36 Rafale aircraft. This happened during 2007-12,” said Patra.

The Congress, in response, said the Modi government is attempting to “cover-up” the corruption charges levelled against its own leaders. On this, Patra said the Congress is “misleading” the country ahead of the 2019 national elections by holding the BJP responsible for misappropriation in the Rafale deal. “INC (Indian National Congress) stands for I need commission…During the UPA tenure, there was a deal within every deal,” said Patra.

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Also read: ‘Be it UPA or NDA, midleman Sushen Gupta was active in Rafale talks’

“Let Rahul Gandhi answer from Italy – why did you and your party try to spread lies about Rafale all these years?” Patra said.

Congress spokesman Pawan Khera termed the latest revelations as nothing but “operation cover-up” to bury the corruption, kickback, and collusion in the deal. “The latest revelations in Operation Cover-up reveal the dubious nexus between (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi government-CBI-Enforcement Directorate to bury the Rafale Corruption,” said Khera.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi too posted tweets sharing news articles on the Rafale report.

Khera criticised the Modi government for dropping of the anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal. He also questioned why there has been no probe against the middleman, Sushen Gupta, so far.

Also read: Shaky rulers, rickety transparency: The tough lives of RTI warriors

French journal Mediapart has published alleged false invoices that it claims enabled Dassault to pay Gupta and seal the Rs 59,000 crore deal with the Indian government. “Despite the existence of these documents, the Indian federal police (CBI) has decided not to pursue the affair and has not begun an investigation,” Mediapart says, adding most of the bribe amount was paid in 2013, when the UPA government was in power.

The portal claims that both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have had proof of the wrongdoing, but did not act.

Mediapart has also accused Gupta of getting paid by AgustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian helicopter maker, through a shell company registered by the name Intersteller Technologies in Mauritius.

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