The political slugfest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition Congress over the controversial deal of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft aggravated on Monday with the latter approaching the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), demanding registration of a corruption case in the deal. Soon after this, the BJP came out with allegations of its own and claimed an “international conspiracy” behind the row over the deal.
A delegation of senior Congress leaders led by Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad met CVC KV Chowdary and submitted a detailed memorandum, accusing the Narendra Modi government of corruption and cronyism in the Rafale deal.
“Rafale scam has now emerged as India’s biggest defence scam. Tracks of corruption are getting unravelled by the day with repeated disclosures getting no answers from the Defence Ministry of the Government of the day. The stench of corruption and cronyism in the Rafale deal is nauseating, requiring urgent intervention by your goodself,” the Congress memorandum to the CVC read.
On September 19, a Congress delegation had met the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and urged to prepare a report on the alleged irregularities in the deal and present it in Parliament.
In the memorandum, the Congress party said that as per the law, the government was bound to disclose the price of Rafal aircraft before the CVC, asserting that the “entire deal its contours, nature of contract, absence of favouritism, corruption, crony capitalism, violation of law and procedures and the principles of level playing field are part of CVC’s domain to examine and to return a finding”.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the CVC, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Why was a contract of Rs 30,000 crore given to a company that is on the verge of bankruptcy? How can they sideline a company like HAL?”
Row over Rafale part of ‘International conspiracy’: BJP’s defence
Countering Congress’s claims, the BJP brought a new ‘international conspiracy’ angle in the deal. Addressing a press conference at BJP headquarters in Delhi, Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat claimed that the allegations of Congress were part of an ‘International conspiracy’ to remove Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“An international conspiracy is being brewed to cancel the deal, a conspiracy is being brewed to lower the morale of the air force... behind it there is only one reason.. to remove Prime Minister Modi,” Shekhawat said.
“Congress is seeking the support of global and anti-national forces to remove Modi,” he alleged.
The Congress president has launched an all-out attack against Modi over the alleged conflict of interest in the Rafale deal. Gandhi said that the Modi government had chosen a “businessman friend” as the Indian partner of Dassault Aviation, a French defence entity responsible for making the aircraft.
(With inputs from agency)