Congress demands JPC probe into Rafale deal after France initiates inquiry

The Congress on Saturday demanded the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale deal, which is under the French judicial scanner for corruption suspicions.

Party chief spokesman and general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala told a Press conference that there are no fighter jets bought by India.

"It is an excellent aircraft, which was being purchased with transfer of technology by the UPA regime, but this Government reduced the number ofaircraft from 126 to 36, undid the transfer of technology, which was to come to the PSU HAL, and bought the aircraft at a much-much higher price. Also, there were sweetheart deals viz-a-viz their crony capitalists. All this now is laid bare, stands uncovered, unmasked."

Surjewala said the ‘Procurement Procedure’ of the Ministry of Defence contains mandatory ‘anti-corruption clauses’ -- “that is, no bribes, no gifts, no influence, no commission, no middlemen”. These mandatory clauses were part of the tender issued by the UPA dispensation for the purchase of 126 fighter aircraft.

Likewise, the Union Defence Ministry had proposed that the mandatory ‘anti-corruption clauses’ be a part of the ‘Inter-Governmental Agreement’ for the purchase of 36 aircraft by Modi Govt.

However, the French Govt/Dassault deleted the ‘anti-corruption clauses’ and it was Prime Minister Modi who had approved of the deletion in September 2016, it is charged.

Surjewala said this was done despite the specific guidelines of Defence Ministry to include the ‘anti-corruption clauses’ and it becomes all the more scandalous in view of the latest revelations, requiring a thorough JPC probe in the Rafale scam.

Asked if the Congress will approach the Supreme Court yet again in the light of the fresh revelations, he said a JPC probe was preferable since it will be able to summon witnesses and have access to all government files, which the Supreme Court or the Central Vigilance Commission could never get to see.

"The JPC will be able to ask probing questions like a civil court, will be able to punish somebody for lying and will be able to summon the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, the Defence Ministry officials and anybody else that it wants to. A JPC is the only way forward", Surjewala asserted.

On the Congress charge in April at a press conference that 1.1 million Euros were paid to a middleman, which was dismissed by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as baseless, he said one should tell the Union Minister that "little knowledge is dangerous".

"Can he tell, who in France makes fighter aircraft other than Dassault -- the answer is nobody else. Then where is the corporate rivalry? And, if he is referring to the Eurofighter, let me remind you that Eurofighter had written to Prime Minister and the then Defence Minister saying that they are ready to reduce prices by 20%. Any sane government should have reweighed everything and asked Dassault also to reduce prices in an equivalent fashion", Surjewala said.

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Free Press Journal