On the very last day of last session of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Narendra Modi government is likely to table the contentious CAG report on multi-billion Rafale fighter plane deal in Parliament today. The report will not have any details on the pricing of the combat jets, which is at the heart of the biggest defence controversy of recent times. Here are top 10 facts about the deal, which some experts say has the potential to impact the electoral mandate of the ruling party:
1: The Congress, which has been blaming the Modi government for bypassing the rules to benefit private firm maintains that if the "overt acts of malfeasance" in the Rafale contract were ignored by the CAG report, then it would "not be worth" the paper it is written on.
2: Earlier, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal had alleged conflict of interest and asked CAG Rajiv Mehrishi to recuse himself from auditing the deal as he was the finance secretary when the Rafale deal was negotiated.
3: Union Minister Arun Jaitley, however, rebutted the claims of Sibal saying that the Congress was casting aspersions on the institution of CAG based on "falsehood". "
4: The CAG report, officially known as Capital Acquisitions for Air Force, will compare the government's decision to procure 36 aircrafts using inflation and deciding on the price of the UPA's procurement of 18 flyaway aircraft in 2007 along with the global tender.
5: The latest media reports have also added to the ongoing row. After the defence ministry’s ‘dissent note’ sparked massive controversy in the ongoing Rafale row, new media report suggest that the Narendra Modi government not only waived the anti-corruption clause but also overruled the Financial Advisers’ recommendation for an escrow account.
6: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi attacked the Modi government and said that the report by ‘The Hindu’ proves that, “the Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 Cr. from the IAF.” “It is clear that the PM facilitated loot,” Gandhi added.
7: Last month, ‘The Hindu’ had reported that how the Narendra Modi government's 2015 decision exponentially increased the price of each fighter jet. The report said that the deal bypassed the procedures despite some serious objections raised by top defence brass.
8: The January 18 report said that the 2015 decision caused the price of Rafale jets to go up by 41%. According to the report, Manmohan Singh-led UPA government had decided to buy 126 Rafale aircraft in 2007. The 2007 bid meant India was buying 18 fighter jets in ‘fly-away’ condition and 108 were to be made in India.
9: But Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had questioned the intent of the report published by ‘The Hindu,’ and said that, “a newspaper published a file noting written by Defence Secretary. If a newspaper publishes a noting then the ethics of journalism will demand that the newspaper publishes the then Defence Minister’s reply as well.”
10: Earlier, the Defence Minister had said that ever since the Modi government came to power, there was a conscious effort to keep middlemen at bay from the corridors of the Defence Ministry.