New Delhi : The Congress on Tuesday accused the government of a “cover-up” of corruption in the Rafale deal, after French media portal Mediapart published a report that alleged bribes were paid to middlemen to secure the deal.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has been raising questions over the Rafale aircraft deal, tweeted a report on the alleged bribes being paid to a middleman in the Rafale deal.
“There is nothing to fear when truth is with you every step of the way. My fellow Congress members keep fighting against the corrupt central government. Don’t stop, don’t get tired, don’t be afraid!” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, with a hashtag ‘Rafale scam’.
Party leader Pawan Khera said the BJP government sacrificed national security and jeopardized the interests of the Indian Air Force.
“The “Operation Cover-up” by Modi Govt to bury the melting pot of corruption, kickbacks and collusion in the Rafale deal is once again exposed. The BJP government sacrificed national security, jeopardized the interests of the Indian Air Force and caused a loss worth thousands of crores to our exchequer,” Khera said.
“Each revelation in the murky Rafale affair for the last 5 years, every single allegation and each piece of the puzzle leads right up to the highest echelons of power in the Modi government,” he said.
He said the “latest revelations in Operation Cover-up” show a “dubious nexus between Modi Govt-CBI-ED to bury the Rafale corruption”.
The report in Mediapart said Dassault aviation paid at least 7.5 million euros in bribes to a middleman for the Rafale deal.
The report said alleged middleman Sushen Gupta, who has also been accused of receiving bribes in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, got kickbacks in the Rafale deal. The article published alleged false invoices enabled Dassault to pay secret commissions to Gupta.
“On 23rd October 2018, a PM Modi-led Committee removed CBI Director Alok Verma in a midnight coup, raided the CBI headquarters using Delhi Police and appointed its protege, M Nageshwar Rao as the CBI chief. This was part of a concerted conspiracy to bury the ‘Rafale Ghost’ through the CBI,” Khera alleged.
“Why has the Modi government and the CBI not acted upon the evidence of commission and corruption for last 36 months? Why has it been buried? Why did Modi government remove the CBI Chief in a midnight coup?” he added.
He said the Rafale deal was the “biggest defence scam” and only an independent investigation would reveal the truth.
“French News portal/agency – Mediapart.fr in fresh set of stunning revelations have exposed how middleman Sushen Gupta got hold of confidential documents belonging to the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) in 2015 from India’s Ministry of Defence detailing the stance of the Indian negotiators, during the final lap of negotiation and in particular how they calculated the price of the aircraft. This gave a clear advantage to Dassault Aviation (Rafale).” Khera said.
He also said in the government to government deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets, PM Modi abrogated the ‘Anti-Corruption clauses’.
“Isn’t it correct that the ‘Anti-Corruption clauses’ were part of the tender issued by the UPA for purchase of 126 fighter aircrafts?” he added.
Khera also questioned why government reduced the number of Rafale aircrafts unilaterally without consulting the Indian Air Force, deny Transfer of Technology to India and manufacture of Rafale by HAL and why did it do away with the Anti-Corruption clauses which is a prerequisite for any Defence tender.
He also questioned why the alleged middleman Gupta was “protected” and no investigation was done.
Congress has been alleging irregularities in the deal for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets off-shelf from France, signed between the Indian and French governments.
The Congress has alleged that the fighter jets are being bought from France at a price higher than what was negotiated in the previous multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal under which 126 fighter jets were to be bought, and included a number of fighters being assembled in India.