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Congress ties Rafale deal fate to CVC probe outcome

Party has indicated it expects government to tell France that further movement will depend on the findings of investigations

By Our Special Correspondent in New Delhi

  • Published 25.09.18, 4:24 AM
  • Updated 25.09.18, 4:24 AM
Congress leaders come out of the Central Vigilance Commission in New Delhi on Monday.
Congress leaders come out of the Central Vigilance Commission in New Delhi on Monday. Picture by Prem Singh

The Congress has so far not demanded the Rafale agreement be scrapped but indicated it expects the government to tell France that further movement will depend on the findings of investigations, which means the deal isn’t yet cast in stone.

Although the government has ruled out cancelling or investigating the deal, the Congress on Monday petitioned the Central Vigilance Commission for a thorough inquiry.

The Congress has already approached the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for an examination of the deal, which involves the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation.

“As per law, the government is bound to provide full information to the CVC,” the Congress petition to the commission said, describing the deal as India’s biggest scam.

“(The) entire deal, its contours, nature of contract, favouritism, corruption, crony capitalism, violation of law and procedures and the principles of level playing field are part of (the) CVC’s domain to examine.

“We, therefore, request the CVC to undertake its statutory duty by examining records threadbare, so that corruption, crony capitalism, violation of law and procedure and loss to public exchequer is brought out at the earliest.”

Asked whether the Congress was saying the deal should be scrapped, spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: “We have no problem with the Rafale aircraft but a corrupt process cannot be supported.”

He added: “National security is supreme but how can we buy a fighter jet at a price three times more than (that) already negotiated? We have asked the CVC to freeze all the documents and files. We don’t want to reach a stage when it becomes irreversible. Put them (the French) on warning that future course is subject to investigations.”

After a Congress delegation met central vigilance commissioner V.K. Chowdary, senior leader Anand Sharma said: “It is a huge scam. All the related documents should be seized. Evidence should not be tampered with. Immediate action is called for. FIRs should be filed.”

Singhvi, asked whether the episode wouldn’t affect Indo-French ties, said: “France has been very supportive of India and we want friendly ties. But aren’t relations undermined when baseless allegations are made against a former President (Francois Hollande)?”

He added: “BJP leaders are suggesting a conspiracy, alleging a link between Hollande’s statement and Rahul Gandhi. How silly can we get? The NDA is in power, they struck the deal, and the collusion is with us! 

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