‘Govt using army brass to defend Rafale scam’
The NDA government is using men and women in uniform to defend the Rafale deal, and PM Narendra Modi is personally “culpable” in the scam, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and lawyeractivist Prashant Bhushan alleged on Tuesday.
The opposition led by the Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal, claiming that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,600 crore against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government. The government has rejected the charges.
Last week Air Marshal Deo called Rafale a “beautiful” aircraft and said those criticising the deal must understand the procurement norms. Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar has also countered allegations of any wrongdoing in the deal.
Shourie, Sinha and Bhushan at a press conference here, stepped up their attack on the prime minister, alleging that after being “totally exposed”, the government is now using the senior army brass to defend the deal. The trio said they agreed with Air Marshal Deo’s views but wondered why Modi had reduced the number of aircraft from 126 to just 36, “disregarding” IAF’s strategic needs. The prime minister has done away with the Make In India component of the deal, under which the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would have manufactured this “beautiful aircraft” in this country. “The PM is personally culpable in the Rafale scam. They are making the Vice Chief of Air Force to lie. The Air Force never said before April 10, 2015, that buy 36 aircraft or India-specific add-ons. By making them lie the morale of the air force is being finished,” they alleged.”
Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan also hit out at Finance minister Arun Jaitley, referring to him as “blogging minister” for his recent online posts, defending the Rafale deal. “The responses of Reliance, Jaitley and the government at large, cumulatively show that award of offsets to Reliance-Dassault JV is a commission for the services that (Anil) Ambani provides to Modi,” they claimed, adding, “The scam in the Rafale deal is much bigger than the Bofors scandal and we demand a timebound CAG probe into it.”