Congress wants to keep Rafale issue alive till elections

The Indian National Congress is desperately trying to come back to power by keeping the controversy over the Rafale fighter jets deal alive ahead of April-May general elections.

The party has hence conveniently ignored the explanations provided by the defence and finance ministers during a parliamentary debate on Rafale and the clean chit given by the Supreme Court to the federal process followed in reaching the deal.

Congress strategy is clear. It wants to force the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government make the entire Rafale deal public to silence critics ahead of elections and, in the process,  commit the blunder of compromising national security by unlocking the secrets of the wide range of weapons, including missiles, the fighter jets are fitted with.

The government will not walk into that trap since the deal between France and India will suffer if pricing details are revealed in violation of the secrecy clause. It suspects Congress is plotting to scuttle the Rafale deal and swing it in favour of a rival company engaged in the manufacturer of military jets in another country if the party returns to power.

To win the polls, Congress is trying to depict Rafale deal as the ‘mother of all corruption scandals’ in post-independence India although the BJP-led government in power over the past 55 months has had an unblemished record unlike the previous Congress rule.

Last week, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was so much carried away by a half-baked report based on a leaked government note on Rafale talks that he again called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a ‘thief.’

Opposition parties joined the Congress chorus and media played up the story since the newspaper was known for its credibility.

Hours later, the defence ministry published the full page of the note with comments from the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar allaying fears over the role of prime minister’s office (PMO) in talks with the French government.

Parrikar’s observation could have dispelled doubts over the deal raised in the report. Why was the bottom half of the page carrying the government note not published? Was it deleted by the source who leaked it or the newspaper that published it?

Since the report was based on ‘parallel talks’ as alleged by the official’s note, Parrikar’s  response should have been included in the report.

Rahul never apologised to Modi for the ‘thief’ remark after jumping the gun. His party’s perception may be that by uttering a lie thousand times, it will ultimately become a truth. He still talks about a prime minister who has “lost all credibility” without first asking himself how much credible he is while making such wild allegations.

 The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) will submit its much awaited report on Rafale deal in Parliament before Wednesday. Anticipating this, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Sunday (Feb 11) asked the CAG, Rajiv Mehrishi, to recuse himself from auditing the Rafale deal as he was the finance secretary between Oct 24 2014 and Aug 30 2015 when the crucial talks on Rafale deal were held.

The intention of Congress is clear – to keep the Rafale issue alive even if CAG finds nothing wrong in the process of finalising the deal.

BJP finds a method in the madness by Congress. While accusing the saffron party of undermining institutions, it is actually Congress which does this. 

The grand old party does not believe in electronic voting machines when it loses elections. It questions the Supreme Court ruling when the top court finds the Rafale deal clean. Its latest target is CAG. The party may have come to know that the report is going to give a clean chit to the Modi government.