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Rafale wrangle looks costly for BJP before polls

The politics is too hot on Rafale as it was on 2G scam way back during the UPA regime. The entire opposition is united in attacking the BJP and PM Modi over the alleged scam. Meanwhile, the scam was yet to settle and the government told the Supreme Court that the documents related to the Rafale aircraft deal were stolen from the Defence Ministry, adding that whoever puts Rafale documents in the public domain is guilty under the Official Secrets Act and contempt of court. Seeking a response from the Centre, the court asked what it had done when the stories based on stolen material came out. The drama went on for long and the hearing has been adjourned to March 14. In the end, we can see how Rafale has clutched PM Modi in a non-stop controversy; when the opposition asked for an explanation in Rafale deal corruption, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman came out with very dramatic anger but she too failed to answer the basic question. The Opposition Parties in India are well aware of tricks that BJP played against Congress when it was in opposition maligning each and every deal as a Scam by using Media, Government machinery like Joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to make a non-issue an issue to convince the voters against Congress. Now, whenever they came to power, they never persuaded with a proper investigation on any of the issues they raised before starting from Bofors to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam or 2G Scam. Finally, on December 21, 2017, a Special CBI Court acquitted all the persons accused in the 2G scam case.

The BJP is in power now; it is well aware that the Congress will play with the same tricks against it to make a non-issue as an issue of corruption and people will certainly believe. Take an Example, during the UPA regime, when there was a fall in the Rupee value in the International Market, Narendra Modi made fun of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, although the criteria for raise and fall of Rupee depends on various National and International Parameters. Many times, most things are not in the control of any government and now, the BJP has to struggle to convince the nation.

BJP clearly understands that if it accepts JPC probe, first it is accepting that the deal has some wrongdoing which needs the Parliament committee verification, and it also clearly knows that the Congress will play the same game how BJP played with the Congress when it was in the opposition by leaking half-baked information each day for creating havoc in public mind. Examples like 2G scam and others were successful in convincing the nation that the Congress is a corrupt party; but when it came back to power, the court closed the entire 2G scam as no material for investigation was found.

We Indians must always be in alert mode on any party and must judge them by their deed before we vote for them. Meanwhile, former Aam Aadmi Party founder and esteemed lawyer, who was once humiliated and trashed by BJP’s workers, is now taking on BJP and the PM without sparing them any escape. Prashant Bhushan and others have come to the court with stolen documents and explained how they obtained those papers.

Meanwhile, Congress party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told the reporters that the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) to finalise the purchase of the fighter aircraft was sidelined and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval finalised the negotiation at the behest of the Prime Minister’s office. On October 10, the Supreme Court asked the Central government to provide details of the decision making process in the Rafale deal with France in a sealed cover by October 29.

On December 14, 2018, the court dismissed all the petitions seeking a probe into the alleged irregularities in the deal and gave a clean chit to the Union government on all the three aspects, viz., the decision making, pricing, and selection of Indian offset partner. In its ruling, the court said that it has “studied the material carefully” and is satisfied with the decision-making process and that it found no evidence of wrongdoing. On the aspect of offset partner, the court rejected allegations of commercial favouritism citing the lack of any substantive material. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s verdict, the main opposition party, Congress, repeated its allegations of corruption against the government and continued to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the deal, saying that the Supreme Court was “not the forum to decide the issue of such a sensitive defense contract. BJP promptly rejected the demand. Congress questioned the court’s justification of selection of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as offsets partner in the deal. Rahul Gandhi, speaking at a press conference, reiterated the demand for a JPC probe, and alleged that the government misled the court on the issue, stating that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report was not shared with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as yet, and in fact no such report is in the public domain, contrary to the court’s order. The ruling party BJP, on the other hand, welcomed the verdict, while saying that the falsehood on the issue was exposed. However, the controversy did not halt there. On December 16, the Congress asked the Supreme Court not to entertain the government’s application of rectification of judgment. Congress also urged the court to recall the Rafale judgment as being “self-contradictory and to issue notices to the government for “perjury and contempt of court as it provided false information to the top court. The Chairman of the PAC, Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress stated, “No portion of the CAG report has been placed before Parliament or was in the public domain. Amid all these attacks, now the court learned that the files of Rafale case are Rafa Dafa and gone missing. Let’s see how BJP gets life out of it.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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