Kickbacks in Rafale Deal: Modi Govt Issues Defensive Statement

Nirmala Sitharaman taking charge as the Union Minister for Defence, in New Delhi on September 07, 2017
Nirmala Sitharaman taking charge as the Union Minister for Defence, in New Delhi on September 07, 2017

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has ridiculed Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remarks that her government will not disclose the details of the Rafale deal.

By Rakesh Raman

Under persistent attack from the Congress party about the controversial Rafale aircraft deal signed by the current Indian government led by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, the government issued a statement Wednesday in its defense.

“Unfounded allegations are being made regarding the 2016 Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to procure 36 Rafale aircraft in fly-away condition from France,” an official statement said.

“This would normally not have merited a response but for the serious damage being caused by the misleading statements, sought to be repeatedly perpetrated on a serious matter of national security.”

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has alleged that PM Modi is personally involved in the deal in which kickbacks worth thousands of crores of rupees have been paid.

He adds that Modi ignored the Defence Minister and other statutory procedures and went to France to buy Rafale aircraft at an exorbitant price.

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In his interaction with the media, the Congress president exhorted the media people to expose the rampant corruption in Modi government. He said although the despotic Modi regime is attacking press freedom, the journalists should show some courage to challenge the corrupt government.

Rahul Gandhi also ridiculed Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remarks that her government will not disclose the details of the Rafale deal.

“The demand that the Government disclose the details and value of the contract for the Rafale aircraft contracted in 2016 is unrealistic,” the Modi government said in its statement.

The statement added that the approximate acquisition cost of the Rafale aircraft has already been provided to the Parliament.

“Provision of exact item-wise cost and other information will reveal, inter alia, details regarding the various customizations and weapons systems specially designed to augment the effectiveness and lethality of the assets, impact our military preparedness and compromise our national security,” the statement said.

According to the government, such details would also come under the ambit of the security agreement signed in 2008. Thus, the government said, “in not revealing the item-wise details of the contract, the Government is merely following in letter and spirit the confidentiality provisions of a bilateral India-France Agreement of 2008 signed by the previous Government.”

As the government is trying to hide the details of the deal behind the veil of national security, Congress is asking Modi how much he decided to pay for each aircraft. The opposition party has also questioned Modi that why he had ignored a public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to favour a private entity that has no defence production experience. It is believed that the private company is close to Modi and helped him win 2014 Lok Sabha election.

The Modi government could not give a satisfactory reply to all the troubling questions in the Rafale deal which is being seen as the biggest scam in the history of corruption in India.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He also runs a free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.

Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau

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Rakesh Raman