Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh has sent a legal notice to defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, demanding that the 2016 Rafale deal be replaced with an earlier understanding to purchase 126 Rafale fighter aircraft.
Singh said that he was compelled to send a legal notice after not receiving any intimation of action on his complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission in March, which was forwarded to the defence secretary in May.
The MP from Delhi cited the varying replies given to Parliament by minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre in 2016 and 2018.
In 2016, Bhamre said in a reply to 14 MPs in the Lok Sabha that each jet cost approximately Rs 670 crore “along with requisite equipment, services and weapons.” In March this year, in a reply to Singh, Bhamre quoted the same price, “without associated equipment, weapons, India Specific Enhancements, maintenance support and services”.
Singh wrote the Rajya Sabha secretary-general in July to allow a privilege notice to be moved against Bhamre.
He told reporters: “The BJP government and the defence minister have been shouting that the price cannot be revealed as it is a secret deal. Their lie has been caught. If it was secret, why has minister Subhash Bhamre revealed to the nation their price in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha?”
In his legal notice, Singh demanded that a special investigation team, monitored by the Supreme Court, probe how Anil Ambani’s Reliance firm came into the picture.
He also wanted to know why the earlier deal to buy 126 Rafale planes was replaced with the 36- jet arrangement at a far higher price.