18 September Saturday
French anti-corruption agency found a payment of one million Euros to an Indian middleman in the deal

Rafale Corruption Probe: Centre Accountable; Modi Government Quiet

Web Desk‌Updated: Monday Jul 5, 2021

New Delhi : Demand is now stronger for a Joint Parliamentary Committee(JPC) probe  after France launched a  corruption probe in Rafale jet fighter deal with India. Opposition majors including CPI(M) and Congress raised demands for investigations. Since India-France deal is at the core of France’s judicial probe, the central government here cannot escape accountability. However, the Modi government is conspicuously quiet on the development.

The 2014 contract to procure fighter jets was pulled down  in April of 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with then French President Francois Hollande. A new agreement was later drawn in 2016. The probe in France is looking up suspected corruption, favouritism, money laundering and abuse of power involved in that deal after its anti-corruption agency detected payment of one million Euros to an Indian middleman in the deal.

The CPIM) Politburo demanded a JPC probe to bring out  the Prime Minister’s involvement and all behind-the-scene occurrences pertaining to the Rafale. Congress Spokesperson Pavan Kher asked what was Centre's take on the topic. The Enforcement Directorate(ED) had come upon  records that indicated  crores of rupees in bribes received in Rafale deal; it is not known what  ED did with those documents, said Pavan Kher.

Will This Explode Into Another Bofors, Worries BJP: BJP is worried if the Rafale bomb will explode like the bribery-packed 1986 Bofors deal that ultimately led to Congress’s downfall. At that time though India side of investigations and legal actions were thrown off track, its impression on public minds proved damning and left Congress enormously weakened.  Congress has never secured single majority at polls ever since. Although Rafale corruption debates began before Lok Sabha election, the central government held on in the name of a Supreme Court ruling. However, with Prosecution Office in France now confirming corruption, Modi government has landed in tight spot. Being investigated in France  are: former French President, the current President and  Former Defence Minister. What remains to be known are names of those who would be incriminated in the corruption and conspiracy.

Context :  The Modi government entered into a RS 59,000-crore deal on 23 Sept 2016 for procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force.  The Congress cried foul on bribes and irregularities involved alleging that the government was buying the each aircraft  at a price of Rs 1,670 crore  against Rs 526 crore finalized by UPA government in the deal.