Hyderabad: The All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Pawan Khera on Tuesday took a dig at the BJP-led Central government and said its "Operation Cover-up", to bury the melting pot of corruption, kickbacks, and collusion in the Rafale deal, had been exposed once again. The BJP government sacrificed national security and jeopardized the interests of the Indian Air Force and caused loss worth thousands of crores to the exchequer, he alleged.
He said that each revelation in the murky Rafale affair for the last five years, every allegation, and each piece of the puzzle leads to the highest echelons of power in the Narendra Modi-led government. He alleged that the latest revelations in "Operation Cover-up" reveal the dubious nexus between the Centre, CBI, and ED to bury the Rafale corruption.
He asked, "Why have the Modi government and the CBI not acted upon the evidence of the commission and corruption for the last 36 months? Why has it been buried? Why did the government remove the CBI chief in a midnight coup?"
Stating that the Rafale scam was the biggest Defence scam, Mr. Khera said only an independent investigation will reveal the scam. Congress-UPA government had negotiated the purchase of one Rafale fighter aircraft, including transfer of technology for ₹526.10 crore, after an international tender. "The Modi government bought the same Rafale fighter aircraft (off the shelf, without any tender) for ₹1,670 crore and without transfer of technology to India.
The difference in cost of 36 jets is approximately ₹41,205 crore. Will the Modi government answer why we are paying ₹41,205 crore extra for the same 36 aircraft without transfer of technology? Who made money and how much bribes were paid? How could the PM unilaterally buy 36 aircraft 'off the shelf' when there was a live international tender of 126 aircraft?" he asked.
He said that the French news agency, Mediapart.fr, had exposed how middleman Sushen Gupta got hold of confidential documents belonging to the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) in 2015 from India's ministry of Defence detailing the stance of the Indian negotiators during the final lap of negotiation and in particular how they calculated the price of the aircraft.
This gave a clear advantage to Dassault Aviation (Rafale). "Isn't it correct that Enforcement Directorate (ED) has recovered the 'secret' Defence ministry documents from the middlemen during the raid on 26 March 2019? This is nothing short of endangering national security, sedition, and a gross violation of Official's Secrets Act," he said.
He asked why the ED did not pursue these evidence to investigate the scam and why the Central government did not take action against Dassault, the political executive, or the Defence ministry officers who leaked the documents?
Mr. Khera accused Mr. Modi of abrogating the anti-corruption clauses which are mandatory in Defence contracts as per the Defence Procurement Procedure. Stating that the Pakistan-China axis on the borders is a threat to national security, the AICC spokesperson said the creation of infrastructure, building of new airstrips and missiles across the LAC is a matter of serious concern. "In this context, it is even more imperative to ask PM Modi why he reduced the number of Rafale aircraft unilaterally and without consulting the Indian Air Force from 126 to 36 and why he denied transfer of technology to India and manufacture of Rafale by HAL?" he said.