Intensifying its battle against the Modi government over the Rafale deal, the Congress on Monday moved the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) seeking a probe and FIR as well as seizure of relevant documents pertaining to the deal which it claimed caused loss to the exchequer.
An 11-member delegation led by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, met CVC K.V. Chowdary and submitted a memorandum asserting that the deal announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at an “escalated price of about 300 per cent” and done in violation of the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP).
The move to the CVC follows the Congress approaching the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for a special and forensic audit. It also comes amidst an intense political dogfight between the Congress and the BJP-led government over the deal.
“This is the biggest defence scam of the century and we have asked the CVC to take cognisance and register a first information report against those guilty,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said after the meeting the CVC.
“It is the duty of the CVC to seize all the relevant documents,” he said, expressing apprehension that they may be destroyed.
The party also quoted revelations by former French President Francois Hollande in the memorandum, saying he has “exposed the web of corruption”.
“Neither the French government nor the Indian government including Defence Ministry and Prime Minister have contradicted the truth of Hollande’s assertions,” the Congress said, citing Hollande’s interview to a French website saying that India “proposed Reliance Defence for the offset contract and the French government didn’t have a choice but to accept it.
“In fact, the current French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, has admitted the fact that PM Modi had asked Hollande to give Rs 30,000 crore to Reliance by calling it an ‘observation’ in an interview to Radio J of France,” the party said annexing a copy of the news clipping in the memorandum.
“Tracks of corruption are getting unravelled by the day with repeated disclosures getting no answers from the Defence Ministry of the day.
“The stench of corruption and cronyism in the Rafale deal is nauseating, requiring urgent intervention by your good self,” the party said in the memorandum to the CVC.
It blamed the Modi government for causing a loss to the public exchequer of Rs 41,205 crore.
It said the “deliberate enrichment” of a private entity at the cost of defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for off set contracts worth Rs 30,000 crore and life cycle contract worth Rs 100,000 crore was “stark crony capitalism” that needed to be investigated.
The party sought a probe by the CVC claiming the “nearly 300 per cent cost increase in the price of Rafale aircraft smacked of causing loss to public exchequer in a malicious manner”.
The party also mentioned former Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) chief T.S. Raju’s claims of the undertaking having signed a work-share contract with Dassault (manufacturer of Rafale jets) and endorsed his demand for making public the files of the agreement.
The Congress also targeted Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for not disclosing the purchase price of the 36 aircraft citing confidentiality.
“Their disclosure is even more intriguing when both Dassault and Reliance have disclosed the price in the Annual Report, 2016, and the press release dated February 16, 2017,” it said.
“The entire story weaved by Modi and Sitharaman for non-disclosure of purchase price reeks of a huge scam,” the party said, adding that the “shoddy cover-up, the self-defeating assertions and the deliberate lies have exposed the scam which needs to be investigated.
“The government is bound to disclose the price of 36 aircraft to scrutiny by CVC, in light of the serious allegations of corruption and loss of money to public exchequer,” the Congress said, urging Chowdary to examine the records threadbare.