The political controversy over the Rafale deal has become a bone of contention between the two political archrivals, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of irregularities in the 2012 fighter jet purchase agreement.
A Never Ending Tale of Allegations and Corruption
Rafale Scam – A Never Ending Tale of Allegations and Corruption by Poly-Ticks of INDIA
The political controversy over the Rafale deal has become a bone of contention between the two political archrivals, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of irregularities in the 2012 fighter jet purchase agreement, and the main opposition party accuses the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of "concealment" when the agreement was finally signed off and implemented in 2016.
The French journal Mediapart published alleged fraudulent invoices for payments between 2004-2013, stating that at least € 7.5 million in kickbacks was paid to a middleman in order to facilitate French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation secure the deal. The UPA was in power at the time, and the deal cited is the original deal that the previous government signed with Dassault.
Citing claims in a French media report on a "commission" paid during the UPA government, the BJP said the Indian National Congress should be renamed as "I Need Commission" party.
The documents state that Dassault, referred to as D, paid € 7.5 million, or â¹ 650 million, as commission to a middleman for 36 Rafale aircraft that took place during 2007-12."said BJP spokesperson Sambat Patra. The BJP leader cited alleged middleman Sushen Gupta in the deal, adding that he was also involved in the Augusta Westland corruption deal for VVIP helicopters. "It's very much a coincidence and a lot of coincidence is a conspiracy." He said the Congress had misled the country ahead of the 2019 general elections by accusing the BJP of being responsible for the irregularities in the deal.” He further added that "In the UPA era, there was a deal inside every deal."
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera retaliated by saying that the government was conducting "Operation Cover-Up" to bury corruption, kickbacks and collusion in the deal. He termed the Rafale scam as the biggest scam in the history of independent India. He called the Mediapart revelations as the "suspicious nexus" between the government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The Congress focused on Mediapart's second claim that Indian investigative agencies were aware of these kickbacks in as early as 2018 - when the current NDA government was in power - but chose not to investigate the allegations. The report added that the deal included offshore companies, dubious deals and false invoices. Mediapart said that CBI and ED detectives have evidence from October 2018 with regards to Dassault paid commission to Gupta.
"Was the anti-corruption clause deleted in the Rafale deal to avoid liability for bribes and commission payments?" Why did the Prime Minister and the Modi government approve the removal of anti-corruption clauses in September 2016? ”He asked.
India's decision to sign a $ 8.7 billion government agreement with France to buy 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter jets was announced in April 2015, a year after an agreement was signed. It replaced the former Congress-led UPA government's decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were built in India by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Mediapart has published several reports on alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal. Five months ago, it reported that a French judge had been appointed to head an investigation into alleged "corruption and bias" in the deal. In an April report, the magazine said it had documents showing that Dassault and its industrial partner Thales, a defense electronics firm, had been "middlemen" in the "secret commission" of the deal. Gupta was paid several million euros in lieu of his services of facilitating the deal.
In another report, Mediapart claimed that Dassault paid Gupta € 1 million for the manufacturing of 50 replica models of the Rafale jets. The aircraft manufacturer however failed to provide any evidence pertaining to the make of these models to the inspectors of the French anti-corruption agency Française Anticorruption.
Khera accused the government of undermining national security, endangering the interests of the armed forces and inflicting heavy losses on the exchequer. He asked why there was no investigation against Gupta.
Patra said the Congress should explain the alleged irregularities when the UPA was in power. "For 10 years, the IAF (Indian Air Force) was deprived of the fighter jet. Negotiations took place without any result; now we know that the negotiations were about the commission, not about the aircraft."
Rahul Gandhi later chose to address his party colleagues in a tweet on the issue, telling them not to give up or fear fighting the "corrupt" central government. When the truth is with you at every step, then what is there to worry about? My Congress colleagues - continue to fight against the corrupt central government. Don't stop, don't get tired, don't be afraid, "Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi using the hashtag" #RafaleScam ".
Patra said if the Congress feels that the BJP government is not investigating the scams, it should go to court. "[It] should ask why [the government] is not investigating against the Gandhi family ...,” he said in response to a question as to why the investigation is not being carried out. "They are trying to tease us and whenever there is an investigation, they chant slogans of revenge."
The Congress-led opposition has earlier claimed that the price at which India was buying the Rafale aircraft was Rs 1,670 crore for each, three times more than the company's initial bid of Rs 526 crore when the UPA aircraft was trying to buy. It also claimed that the previous agreement included a technology transfer agreement with HAL.
Series of press conferences, political rhetoric, emotional speeches, and accusations made on each other by the warring political archrivals, these tactics to fool the common man are not new, but the fact remains that the damage that India has suffered in Rafale defense deal is incurable. And, unfortunately, there had been scandals entailing corruption in the past as well. May it be the purchase of Jeep, Bofors, Barak missiles, Augusta Westland choppers, Tatra trucks, or embezzlement of coffins, the list of corruption seems to be growing at the expense of the Indian nation with more than 25% population living below the poverty line.
The Rafale deal has brought India to the brink of global humiliation which will haunt the nation for a very long time. Rafale, known as the ship, will be exemplified as the worst example of financial corruption in India.