Cong, BJP trade charges over de­fence deals

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - ARCHIS MO­HAN

The Congress on Tues­day al­leged that “a huge scam was brew­ing” in the pro­cure­ment of the Das­sault Rafale fighter jets for the In­dian Air Force.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions. It said the Congress was scared at the prospect of its top lead­ers be­ing ques­tioned in the AgustaWest­land he­li­copter “bribery scan­dal” soon and had raked up the Rafale deal as a “smoke­screen”.

Congress spokesper­son Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala said the arms deal to pur­chase 36 Rafale fighter air­craft from French air­craft man­u­fac­turer Das­sault was set to cause “in­sur­mount­able loss to the pub­lic ex­che­quer”. He said the arms deal smacked of “non-trans­parency and fla­grant vi­o­la­tion of manda­tory pro­vi­sions of the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure”.

The Congress leader de­manded the Cen­tre break its “con­spir­a­to­rial si­lence” to clar­ify the “grave ap­pre­hen­sions” on the deal. He said the Cen­tre rene­go­ti­ated the deal in 2015, orig­i­nally signed by the United Progressive Al­liance (UPA)-II gov­ern­ment, and sac­ri­ficed na­tional in­ter­est on “trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy” from Das­sault to Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited.

BJP spokesper­son GVL Narasimha Rao said the Congress was ner­vous af­ter the ar­rest of Carle Gerosa, a mid­dle­man in the AgustaWest­land deal, in Italy and his likely ex­tra­di­tion to In­dia soon. “The Congress has made base­less al­le­ga­tions on the Rafale deal to di­vert pub­lic at­ten­tion and to cry po­lit­i­cal vendetta. But these stunts will not work and they should be ready to an­swer ques­tions on the AgustaWest­land deal now that the money trail is go­ing to get known,” Rao said. The Congress-led Op­po­si­tion par­ties are likely to pe­ti­tion Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind if the Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to de­lay con­ven­ing the win­ter ses­sion of Par­lia­ment. Sources in the gov­ern­ment on Tues­day in­di­cated that the Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs (CCPA) could meet on Fri­day to an­nounce the dates for the win­ter ses­sion. Usu­ally, the win­ter ses­sion is con­vened in the third week of Novem­ber. The CCPA meets at least a fort­night prior to this to an­nounce the dates and Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment are sub­se­quently in­ti­mated.

PHOTO: PTI

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi at the 15th Asean-In­dia Sum­mit in Manila on Tues­day. The BJP in New Delhi dis­missed Congress’ al­le­ga­tions that ‘a huge scam was brew­ing’ in the pro­cure­ment of the Das­sault Rafale fighter jets

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