‘Govt us­ing army brass to de­fend Rafale scam’

Financial Chronicle - - FUNDAMENTALS, POLITICS -

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.”

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