Was ‘clean chit’ to the government based on the defective government affidavit, is the key question in Rafale case

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Rafale deal through which the government of India is getting fighter jets from a French company Dassault was initiated by the UPA government but it could not be concluded then and the present NDA government revived it and signed the new defence procurement accord. However, certain changes were made in the purchase agreement that raised serious doubts that the deal was tainted on the grounds that the price was three times high, the number of jets was cut from 126 to 36, Indian Offset partner Anil Ambani’s company was chosen instead of the public sector unit HAL, thereby passing 30000 crores to the former, leaving the latter high and dry and therefore on this basis the Congress alleged that it was the biggest scam of the Modi government. As the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was directly involved and the deal was signed between him and the then French President Francois Hollande, the party was also justified in dragging the former in the scam. When Hollande, who since demitted the office, in a press interview said that the selection of the Indian Offset Partner was suggested by the Indian government and the French authorities had no option but to accept it, the Congress charge was given the genuine boost.

Against this backdrop, the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi levelled the charge that through this deal, the PM benefited his friend Anil Ambani and coined a slogan, ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’. During no confidence motion in Parliament, the matter was raised by the Congress but the government did not give a persuasive answer. In election meetings and elsewhere the Congress repeated the charge hectically. While the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and other BJP leaders vehemently refuted the charge the PM kept mum. However, on December 14, the Supreme Court gave a ‘clean chit’ to the government. Dismissing many Public Interest Litigations, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said that the allegations levelled in the petitions had no substance. Now the BJP is trying to turn the table on the Congress and asking Rahul Gandhi to tender an apology. The Congress is adamant to stick to its charge because the judgment spoke of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report and its affirmation by the Parliament Accounts Committee. The Congress said this report is non-existent and the Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge who is the chairman of the PAC said no report was submitted to the committee. When this flaw was pointed out by the Congress, the Law Ministry approached the court to make some correction in the paragraph of the judgment by the court. On this point the Congress moved a privilege motion in Parliament saying the government deliberately misled the Supreme Court and Parliament.

Emboldened by the verdict of the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister in his public meeting in Rae Bareli on December 16 castigated the Congress for levelling corruption charge against him and said the party was trying to project Supreme Court as a ‘liar’. Again it is an attempt by the Prime Minister to mislead the people. The Congress is not calling the court a ‘liar’ but it levelled a serious charge against the government and Law Ministry that it has lied to the court. Approaching the court for pleading certain changes in its observation is a proof of this charge. The Prime Minister also alleged that the Congress was letting down the defence forces. The Congress charge is blemishing the PM and government’s image and not the shining face of the defence forces. It is yet another attempt by the PM to twist the facts. On the contrary, the Congress is blaming the government that it has cut the number of jets from 126 to 36. Whatever may be the court reaction to the government plea for making changes in its judgment, there is no denying the fact that the PM leaves no opportunity to mislead the people. The masses and classes have seen through this game of the Prime Minister and they are  reacting properly as they did in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana. In the last named state, despite the two visits of the PM, the number of BJP seats did not increase but on the contrary the voters have cut them, from five to one.

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