After Rafale deal smarting BJP faces Mallya-Jaitley heat, a double whammy ahead of 2019 poll

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The tall claims of the BJP made by Narendra Modi during the 2014 elections that returned the party to power with absolute majority have proved hallow and the people instead of enjoying the promised ‘good days’ are experiencing the worst days. The first and foremost claim was that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi would give a clean and transparent government, but this too is a fallacy far from reality. The Congress dug out the ghost of corruption of astronomical proportion from the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal. The deal initiated by the UPA government of the Congress was concluded by the Modi government. It is alleged that the deal was finalized at a significantly higher price and while the Indian Air Force needed 126 jets only 36 were being procured. Many established norms were violated in the defence bargain and thus the national security was compromised. The price has been enhanced from Rs. 670 crores to Rs. 1,660 crores and the contract was given to a newly established company –  Reliance Defence Ltd instead of the government-run Hindustan Aeronautics – to favour the Ambani corporate with a benefit of crores of rupees, alleged the opposition parties. This is a lot bigger defence deal than the Bofors guns procurement which was falsely highlighted by the opposition including the BJP to dethrone the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989.

Led by the Congress, opposition parties have been attacking the Modi government alleging it is procuring the jets from a French company at an exorbitant cost. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman while speaking to a national news agency on September 15 said the opposition misled the country and threw unsubstantiated allegations on sensitive issue. If the allegations are baseless, the government should concede the demand pressed by the opposition that a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe should be conducted into the matter which is related to the defence. However, the government rejected the demand. The UPA government in the 2G scam conducted JPC probe. The then Comptroller and Auditor General said the government suffered a loss of Rs 1.7 lakh crores in the 2G allotment. When the court dismissed the case the judge said the loss was imaginary. If the government is firm in its stand, it should not hesitate to go for JPC inquiry. It is essential for the government to come clean on the deal otherwise a big spot of corruption will stick to the Prime Minister with the party going to polls in near future.

The image of the government is already dented with the jewellery corporate icons Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fleeing the country with thousands of crores of rupees. The government’s efforts made so far are not near success to bring them back. Meanwhile the liquor baron Vijay Mallya who threw dust in the CBI surveillance and scooted to take shelter in Britain, recently revealed that before leaving India, he met the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament and told him about his departure. This sensational revelation raised another storm of dust to tarnish the image of the government. It has also come to light that before his departure, the CBI diluted its notice from ‘detain’ to ‘inform’. The Congress alleged that this change could not have been made in this sensitive case until and unless it was directed by the superiors above. At this turn of events the Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted on September 14, “Mallya’s great escape was aided by the CBI quietly changing the ‘detain’ notice for him to ‘inform’. The CBI reports directly to the Prime Minister. It is unconceivable that the CBI, in such a high profile and controversial case, would change a lookout notice without the approval of the PM”. These developments are bound to create the most uncomfortable position for the Prime Minister in the coming elections and it will be very difficult for him to dismiss the corruption charges levelled against his government. The best way is to opt for the Joint Parliamentary Probe.

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