Congress seeks Rafale FIR against Modi

The frontal attack comes days after the Congress shed its post-Pulwama restraint on criticising the government

By Sanjay K. Jha in New Delhi
  • Published 7.03.19, 2:48 AM
  • Updated 7.03.19, 9:29 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Randeep Surjewala speaking at the briefing. Source: YouTube

The Congress on Wednesday sought an FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal under the Prevention of Corruption Act, claiming the Indian negotiation team’s report made it clear that he had “looted the nation’s treasury”.

The frontal attack comes days after the Congress shed its post-Pulwama restraint on criticising the government.

“There is now enough evidence to prosecute the PM in the #RafaleScam. The trail of corruption begins & ends with him. That crucial Rafale files incriminating him are now reported ‘stolen’ by the Govt, is destruction of evidence & an obvious coverup,” party president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said: “The conspiracy has now been uncovered. The price of the 36 Rafale aircraft (under the Modi government’s deal) is far more than (that of the) 126 aircraft negotiated under the UPA government.

“The Prime Minister has looted the nation’s treasury. The INT (Indian negotiation team) report suggests that the price of 36 Rafale aircraft is €8,460 million (Rs 63,450 crore) and not €7,890 million (Rs 59,175 crore) as is being claimed by the government. The calculation was done at the rate of Rs 75 per euro, though it is higher today.”

Quoting from the INT report, as published in The Hindu newspaper, Surjewala said: “There is another dimension to the loot: even €8,460 million is not the final price for the 36 Rafales as it merely takes into account an annual escalation (inflation) rate of 1.22 per cent for a period of 5.75 years. The government has hidden the fact that if inflation in France climbs up to 3.5 per cent, the Indian government will be forced to pay 3.5 per cent more annually. (Since the) 36 aircraft would be delivered in 10 years, the final price may go up to Rs 67,500 crore.”

Surjewala claimed that the Prime Minister had personally scrapped the “bank guarantee” clause, causing a loss of Rs 4,305 crore to the exchequer.

“Even the CAG report admitted that this €574 million (Rs 4,305 crore) was a direct benefit to Dassault Aviation,” he said.

Citing the INT report, he said: “The cost of the ‘India-specific enhancements’, worth €1,300 million (Rs 9,750 crore), was not added to the price of the 36 aircraft. The cost of the ‘India-specific enhancements’ was €11.11 million (Rs 83.32 crore) per aircraft under the UPA deal. Shockingly, despite the same specifications, this cost has gone up to €36.11 (Rs 270.8 crore) per aircraft now. This means the country will pay €10,300 million (Rs 77,250 crore) for the 36 aircraft in the new deal.”

The Congress regretted that the Centre had not yet appointed a Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman that could have started a probe against the Prime Minister. It highlighted how the Prevention of Corruption Act had been amended to ensure no government servant can be prosecuted without written permission.

Surjewala said the INT report had also revealed that the final negotiations were held in France by national security adviser Ajit Doval on January 12 and 13 in 2016, and that the final agreement was signed on January 13 that year.

“This conclusively nails the government’s white lie. The PMO was obviously running a parallel negotiation as initially alleged in writing by the defence secretary…. How is it the domain of the NSA to negotiate and finalise a fighter aircraft purchase deal? Obviously, the PMO and the NSA were doing so under the PM’s direct instructions.”