Government has no option but to order JPC probe into Rafale deal, says former Defence Minister AK Antony

"French Public Prosecution Services has now appointed a Judge to investigate the corruption, influence paddling and brazen favouritism in 36 Aircrafts Rafale deal," said the former defence minister


NH Web Desk

Launching a scathing attack on Modi government, former defence minister and a veteran Congress leader AK Antony demanded a Joint parliamentary committee over the controversial Rafale Aricraft deat

"French Public Prosecution Services has now appointed a Judge to investigate the corruption, influence paddling and brazen favouritism in the 36 Aircrafts Rafale deal," said the former defence minister.

In a statement, AK Antony observed, "The prima facie corruption in the Rafale deal is now apparent. The intriguing silence of Modi Government points towards mal-intent to hush up the corruption. The refusal of the BJP Government to probe and punish the guilty is even more astonishing, pointing towards a concerted effort to bury the scam."

"Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi went to Paris on 10th April, 2015 and unilaterally announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts without going through any tender process and in complete derogation of the ‘Defence Procurement Procedure’. Every defence expert was shocked by this unilateral order which is India’s biggest defence deal. It was even more surprising because there was an ongoing negotiation for purchase of 126 Rafale Aircrafts in pursuance of an international tender, which envisaged 108 aircrafts to be made in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and 18 aircrafts to be purchased in fly away condition. This international tender for 126 aircrafts also envisaged the all important ‘Transfer of Technology’ to India," added the former Defence Minister.

"Till today, neither the Prime Minister nor the BJP Government have explained the reason for reducing the number of aircrafts from 126 to 36 or the reason for sacrificing Transfer of Technology to India. BJP Government has also not explained the basis or the reason for enhancing the price of the 36 aircrafts or for denying the offset contract to the Government’s PSU, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. BJP Government has also not stated the reason for the fact that when clearance from ‘Defence Acquisition Council’ had been given and there was an ongoing tender for which negotiations were being finalized, how could the Prime Minister and the Government unilaterally enter into another agreement?"

"The subsequent series of events and documents placed in public record have now affirmed the stance of the Congress Party about wrongdoing and corruption in the Rafale deal. What is, indeed, mysterious is the fact that despite 48 hours having lapsed, the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister have decided to maintain a complete silence on ordering of corruption investigation into Rafale deal by the French Public Prosecution Services. Simple question is why has the Government chosen to remain ‘mum’? Why have the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister not come forward to react on the shocking and sensational development of a corruption probe in the Rafale deal by the Public Prosecution Services of France? Can Modi Government escape accountability for corruption allegations by its intriguing silence? Is it not the responsibility of the Government to come forward and accept the truth?," Antony has asked in the statement.

"This is even more important as 36 aircrafts are being purchased by Modi Government under an ‘Inter-Governmental Agreement’ and one party to the agreement i.e. the French Government, has proceeded to order an investigation through a judge. The only way forward is to accept accountability and order a free and fair JPC probe into the entire set of facts, evidence and allegations of corruption in Rafale deal," the former Defence Minister emphasised.

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