Rafale Deal Lands a Blow on PM Modi: New York Times

Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB
Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB

While BJP leaders are defending Modi’s Rafale deal by giving loose political statements, they are not able to handle the specific queries related to the irregularities in the case.

By Rakesh Raman

The shady Rafale deal in which India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an accused is now getting some significant international press coverage.

The New York Times (NYT), the world’s top newspaper based in the U.S., has said in its new article that Modi’s opaque arms deal has raised some serious questions. The article headlined “With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi” appeared Saturday in NYT.

It has raised questions such as why Modi renegotiated a deal for 36 fighter jets and why a company run by a wealthy family was chosen to participate in the deal while it had no experience of building jets.

The NYT article also has asked why the costs of the planes seemed to jump so much and why Modi is not sharing more details on the Rafale deal.

[ Year of the Lynch Mob in PM Modi’s India: New York Times ]

It is alleged that Modi – who is a public servant – misused his position as PM of India to give undue benefit in Rafale deal to his close associate Anil Ambani who is the Chairman of Reliance ADA group of companies.

Meanwhile, international news agency Reuters has reported that Reliance Defence had also signed a manufacturing and maintenance deal of $6 billion with Russia’s Almaz-Antey, the maker of an air defence system.

Strangely, the partnership between the Indian firm controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani and the Russian firm was announced when Modi began a trip to Moscow for strengthening defence ties.

As the controversy surrounding the Rafale deal refuses to slow down, the case has now reached India’s top investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan have filed a complaint with the CBI, urging the agency to register an FIR against PM Modi and former defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

The complaint alleges that Modi and Parrikar have committed a number of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, in the course of the April 2015 decision to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation. The complaint was handed over to Alok Verma, director of the CBI, on Thursday.

Rafale Scam: PM Modi Blamed with Hashtag #Mera_PM_Chor_Hai ]

Earlier, opposition political party Congress had submitted a detailed complaint about corruption in Rafale deal to India’s top anti-corruption organization Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

According to Congress, a delegation of the party leaders met the Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary and presented proof of rampant corruption in Modi government. The party claimed that the irregularities in the Rafale deal have endangered national security and illegal benefit of ₹1,30,000 crore has gone to Modi’s crony friends (including Ambani).

As Congress is determined to make the Rafale corruption case a major issue in the upcoming elections, on Thursday it complained again to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India – the top auditor of government accounts – urging it to investigate the Rafale case.

A delegation of the Congress leadership met the CAG to inform him about the latest developments in the case and submit a new complaint.

Earlier, Congress had released a 20-point representation that it had sent to CAG. It has accused PM Modi of benefiting his crony friends in the unilateral purchase of 36 Rafale jets from French company Dassault Aviation.

Many Modi supporters believe that this is a political gimmick that the opposition parties are trying to play against PM Modi. A BJP leader and Modi’s friend Arun Jaitley has refuted the allegations, saying that it is an attempt to malign the government by spreading falsehood regarding the 2016 Inter-Governmental Agreement for the procurement of Rafale fighter aircraft.

While BJP leaders are defending Modi’s Rafale deal by giving loose political statements, they are not able to handle the specific queries related to the irregularities in the case.

Now Congress and other Modi opponents are demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe in the Rafale case which is stated to be the biggest scam in the world.

As the Rafale scam is being considered as the biggest fraud by any government in India or abroad, it has become a political hot potato which has the sufficient heat to burn the ruling party BJP headed by PM Modi.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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Rakesh Raman