Rafale scam trail ends at PM’s door, says Congress

Despite evidence since 2018, govt. has not initiated action against middleman Gupta, says Oppn

November 09, 2021 06:03 pm | Updated 06:45 pm IST - New Delhi

Pawan Khera

Pawan Khera

The Congress party on Tuesday accused the Narendra Modi government of covering up corruption in the Rafale scam and shying away from registering an FIR even 36 months after evidence emerged on middleman Sushen Gupta’s role in the deal.

Addressing a press conference, party spokesperson Pawan Khera said the government is busy “burying the black melting pot of corruption, kickbacks and collusion”. And in doing so, it has undermined national security, jeopardised the interests of Indian armed forces and caused a loss to the exchequer of ₹41,000 crore, he added.

French investigative journal Mediapart in fresh revelations had exposed how middleman Gupta got hold of confidential documents belonging to the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) in 2015 from the Ministry of Defence. The documents detailed the stance of Indian negotiators during the final lap of negotiation and in particular how they calculated the price of the aircraft. This gave a clear advantage to Dassault Aviation (Rafale), Mr. Khera claimed, citing the Mediapart report.

Also read | Rafale deal: BJP demands Rahul’s response on fresh ‘revelation’ by Mediapart

The corruption can be tracked to PM Modi’s doorstep, the Congress leader said. The evidence in this case had first came up on October 4, 2018 when two former Union ministers of the BJP — Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha — submitted a file to then CBI Director Alok Verma. On October 11 the attorney general of Mauritius also sent documents about the middleman Gupta, the Congress spokesperson said.

Instead of following the trail, Mr. Khera said, the PM Modi-led committee removed Mr. Verma in middle of the night and conducted a raid at the CBI headquarters. “This was part of the concerted conspiracy to bury the Rafale ghost,” he alleged.

Mr. Khera pointed out that on March 26, 2019, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had raided Gupta’s premises in connection with another case. “Is it not correct that the ED recovered a horde of top secret Defence Ministry documents from Mr. Gupta,” he asked.

The documents, he claimed, included the ‘benchmark price document’ of August 10, 2015, the ‘record of discussions’ by the INT of the Defence Ministry, the ‘excel sheet of calculations made by Defence Ministry’ and ‘Eurofighter’s counter offer of 20% discount to Government of India'.

Mr. Khera alleged that a note of June 24, 2014, sent to Dassault by Gupta, offering a meeting with “the political high command” was also recovered and asked if such a meeting had taken place with the “high command” in the Modi government.

“This is nothing short of endangering national security, sedition and a gross violation of Official's Secrets Act,” he alleged.

“Why did the ED not pursue these evidences further to investigate the scam? Why did the Modi government then not take action against Dassault, the political executive or the defence ministry officers who leaked the documents? Which 'Chowkidar' sold India's national secrets,” Mr. Khera asked.

The Congress leader also alleged that on Prime Minister Modi’s directions the anti-corruption clauses — “no bribery, no gift, no influence, no commission, no middlemen” — was removed.

“Were the anti-corruption clauses deleted to escape responsibility from bribery and commission to be paid in the Rafale deal? Why was the deletion of anti-corruption clauses approved by the Prime Minister and the Modi government in September 2016, despite the Defence Ministry’s insistence upon including it in the inter-governmental agreement in July 2015,” Mr. Khera asked.

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