Cong, BJP trade charges over defence deals
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.
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