[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hough much more will be revealed in the coming days about the dirty game that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the crony capitalist Anil Ambani have played in finalising the Rafale deal, whatever has come to light so far is enough to outright cancel the deal. It is the biggest corruption scam in which about Rs. 30,000 crore of the public money has been assured to Anil Ambani for doing nothing.
Let us put the Rafale scam in the simplest possible words. Indian Air Force opted for buying 126 Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) when the UPA was in power. Basic price and modalities were almost worked out and as per our practice the public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was to build 108 fighter jets and the remaining 18 were to be supplied in flying condition by the French defence company Dassault. This was the situation even after the Narendra Modi government took over in May 2014. In March 2015, the defence ministry had confirmed the deal and the French side had claimed that the deal with HAL was being finalised.
Though more about the dirty game that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the crony capitalist Anil Ambani have played in finalising the Rafale deal will come tumbling out, whatever has come to light so far is enough to outright cancel the deal
Then came the Modi’s France visit in April 2015. He took Anil Ambani with him. In Paris, the Indian prime minister announced on April 10, 2015 the cancellation of the earlier Rafale deal and declared that now India would buy only 36 fighter planes but the amount being paid was grossly disproportionate when compared to the earlier understanding for 126 Rafale planes. Besides, the HAL was ousted and a newly floated company of Anil Ambani was inducted. New provisions were made so that the French company pays half of the money it receives from India to Anil Ambani. This means India is paying almost three times the price of fighter jet that was earlier agreed. It came to close to Rs.60,000 cores. Now, the French side was made to promise half of it, Rs. 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani’s company.
Prashant Bhushan submits that Govt hasn’t disclosed three conditions that gives right to government to avoid tender for inter-governmental agreement. None of the three conditions satisfied in this case.
To justify this loot of public money and putting Rs. 30,000 crore in the pocket of the choicest crony capitalist, the government has been cooking up stories. It has claimed that Rafale deal was between the two governments — that of India and France. Now, its own affidavit has contradicted it. French government has not given any sovereign undertaking. There is only a “letter of comfort” from a French government department. The deal is with French company Dassault.
India is paying almost three times the price of fighter jet that was earlier agreed. It came to close to Rs.60,000 cores. Now, the French side was made to promise half of it, Rs. 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani’s company
Dassault is the beneficiary of enhanced price but Modi government is using its CEO Eric Trappier to get a certificate of “honesty” on the basis that he does not tell lie. It is perhaps the biggest joke in this type of trade.
Dassault CEO Trappier claims that his company chose Ambani’s company on its own. He did not explain why the choice was a company that was floated a fortnight before the deal was announced. Like Dassault, Ambani’s companies are also indebted and defaulters. Is it an agreement to meet their losses and defaults by looting the public money? Both Dassault and Ambani’s firm are sharing the loot of public money. Hence the only way out is to totally cancel the deal. Dassault and Anil Ambani are beneficiaries of the loot.
There must be somebody who has facilitated this loot? Since the Rafale deal was announced, numbers of individuals and public interest litigants have raised questions. Two former union ministers and a known lawyer approached the CBI for an impartial inquiry into Rafale deal. They submitted documents also. In between, the CBI itself wasthrown to chaos. Obviously, somebody was interested that the Rafale deal should not be probed by the CBI. Petitioners approached the Supreme Court.
The damage done by the intended loot of public money by enhancing the price of the fighter jets by almost three times and later, making provision for transferring half of the amount to so-called Indian offset partner under the garb of promoting “Make in India” — could be annulled only by cancelling the deal altogether
Now the matter is before the Supreme Court. Whatever has been revealed so far, it is obvious that the government has been spreading lies and rumours to hide the reality of Rafale scam. The case needs to be probed at two levels. The damage done by the intended loot of public money by enhancing the price of the fighter jets by almost three times and later, making provision for transferring half of the amount to so-called Indian offset partner under the garb of promoting “Make in India” — could be annulled only by cancelling the deal altogether.
Nobody included the defence minister knew about the change in deal. Offset given to Ambani. Reliance has no experience in defence manufacturing says Prashant Bhushan. Number of aircrafts reduced to 36 aircrafts? Who took this decision? And why did PM announce this decision?
The second aspect is the organised corruption that has acquired unprecedented dimension during the four years of Modi regime. Under Narendra Modi, corruption and loot of public money has become the order of the day. Right from the Sahara-Birla dairy to allotments of lands, plundering the resources of PSUs and undue favours to Adani and Ambanis, there are number of cases that need enquiry. Most of them will be taken up after the present regime is ousted next year.
At the moment, the Supreme Court, apart from cancelling the Rafale deal, should also order enquiry in the whole Rafale affair by an Apex Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) that should include defence experts. (IPA)
[Editor’s note: Shameem Faizee is Secretary, National Council of the Communist Party of India.]