While the Indian Air Force is awaiting the delivery of the first Rafale fighter jet from Dassault Aviation in September, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is demanding an investigation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the $8.7 billion deal with the French company.
For the nth time, Gandhi alleged on Thursday that the Rafael deal was signed only to favour Dassault’s offset partner, Anil Ambani who is regarded as close to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
What prompted the Congress president to call for a probe against Modi was the federal government’s move to investigate the leak of official documents related to the Rafale deal from the defence ministry.
On March 6, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the government may invoke the Official Secrets Act to prosecute the newspaper that published the sensitive and classified documents and petitioners, former federal ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
The three petitioners wanted the Supreme Court to review its own ruling which found nothing improper in the government’s decision-making process in the 2016 Rafale deal.
Responding to Gandhi’s call for Rafale probe, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress leader’s facts were all wrong. Jaitley himself and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had given point-to-point rebuttal to Gandhi’s Rafale allegations in Parliament. The Supreme Court ruled there was nothing wrong in the government’s decision-making process in the deal. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) analysed and cleared it.
The three petitioners, who are part of the anti-Modi lobby, are taking one more chance. If Gandhi is not still convinced, it is because he thinks he is above the Supreme Court and the CAG, Jaitley said.
Gandhi seems to be so obsessed with Modi that he lies every time he targets the prime minister. He, along with other party leaders and a section of the Indian media, seems to be hell-bent on bringing down the Modi government. But the more he keeps attacking Modi without any proof, the more he loses his credibility as a leader.
In a cautionary note to the judges, the attorney general said their observations on the procurement of Rafale fighter jets may be used by rival parties to target each other ahead of general elections.
He drew their attention to the recent intrusion by F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan Air Force into India’s airspace to target military installations after the Feb 26 airstrike on Balakot terror camp.
India needs Rafales to neutralise F-16s. A probe into the Rafale deal would cause huge damage to the country, he said.