A fresh political war of words erupted on Tuesday over the Rafale issue as the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Congress went at it over a French media report with the former accusing the latter of taking commission and the latter responding with the allegation of a cover up.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra launched a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi, who has consistently alleged corruption in the purchase of the fighter aircraft by the Modi government, accusing him of spreading ‘canard, disinformation and lies’ and asked for his response on the French media report that claimed that commissions were paid between 2007 and 2012 for securing the Rafale deal with India. He said the Congress should change its name from Indian National Congress to ‘I need commission party.’
The Congress highlighted the report's claim of the CBI and the ED having information in 2018 related to the secret commissions paid by French aviation firm Dassault to a middleman to ask why the Modi government did not initiate an investigation and accused it of a cover-up. The opposition party also renewed its demand of a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and asked why the BJP was not asking for it.
While tweeting on the issue, Rahul Gandhi said: “When the truth is with you in every step, then what is there to worry about? My Congress colleagues — keep fighting like this against the corrupt central government. Don't stop, don't get tired, don't be afraid.”
Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal said that the only answer to the charges is to conduct a JPC inquiry into the Rafale issue. “If kickbacks have been given, then there has to be an inquiry. It is very clear that there is a need for a JPC inquiry for which we are asking the government,” he said.
According to Mediapart’s investigation, Dassault Aviation paid kickbacks to the tune of 7.5 million euros to an intermediary in Mauritius between 2007 and 2012. The Congress-led UPA was in power between 2004 and 2014. The report gave BJP ample ammunition to launch an aggressive counter to the Congress attack.
“Corruption’s address has been 10 Janpath,” Patra alleged, referring to the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and claimed that it has become ‘homeless’ after the BJP came to power.
However, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera claimed that on October 4, 2018, two former BJP Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and a senior lawyer submitted a complaint to the director of the CBI citing massive corruption in the Rafale deal.
But, on October 23, 2018, CBI Director Alok Verma was removed in a ‘midnight coup’, Khera said, alleging that this was part of a concerted conspiracy to bury the Rafale ghost through the CBI. “Why has the Modi government and the CBI not acted upon the evidence of commission and corruption for the last 36 months? Why has it been buried? Why did the Modi government remove the CBI Chief in a midnight coup," the Congress leader enquired.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)