In a scathing attack on the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie are now demanding a time-bound probe into the Rafale deal contract by national auditor CAG.
The duo have alleged that the Rafale deal is a case of “monumental criminal misconduct” by the NDA government and the scam involving it is much bigger than the Bofors scandal,
Sinha and Shourie, addressing a press conference along with lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, raised a number of questions over the Rs 58,000 crore deal for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
The trio, known as strong critics of the NDA government, also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of single-handedly changing the parameters of the deal and that there was gross violation of mandatory procedures in finalising the contract.
The Congress has been accusing massive irregularities in the Rafale deal, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government for the procurement of 126 Rafale jets. The deal negotiated by the UPA could not be inked.
The trio also rejected government’s contention that the prices of the aircraft have gone up due to India-specific add-ons and weapons systems, citing a joint statement by India and France during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Paris in 2015.
They said the joint statement mentioned that the aircraft and the associated systems and weapons would be delivered to India on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force for the deal negotiated for procurement of 126 jets under the UPA government.
Shourie alleged that there had been “gross misuse of office” by which the original project for the acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft had been “sabotaged”.
The entire deal was a “textbook case of criminal misconduct, of misuse of public office and of enriching parties at the expense of the national interest and national security”, they alleged, adding there was an “effort” by the government to “conceal” facts.
“I can tell you, as a person who handled the matter with regards to Bofors, that Bofors was absolutely nothing compared to this (Rafale scam). There was never a sudden change (in the deal) like this in which you suddenly give up the entire project,” the former minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government said.
The Congress has also been pressing for price details of the deal but the NDA government has refused to divulge them citing confidentiality provisions of a 2008 Indo-France pact. The government has asserted that there were no irregularities in the deal.
“I would suggest, on our behalf, that the audit which Comptroller and Auditor General was supposed to take up, that should be a forensic audit and it should be completed within three months,” said Sinha, adding “It is a huge scam. Bofors pales into insignificance before this scam.”