Congress Allegations Against Rafale Deal Continueby Opinion Express September 24, 2018 0 comments
As Congress’ allegations on the Rafale fighter aircraft deal continue unabated, many questions arise.
The French name their fighter jets well, an illusion for the Mirage and a Gust for the Rafale. But the deal between India and France to purchase 36 Rafale fighters seems to now be stuck in a political quagmire. The main allegation, constantly repeated by the Congress and its leader, Rahul Gandhi, is that the deal to purchase the Rafales is a corrupt one because the deal involves offsets, and the choice of the partner to conduct those offsets, in this case the Anil Ambani headed Reliance-ADAG Group, was chosen arbitrarily.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been steadfast is denying these allegations, yet has not made public many aspects of the deal, with Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying that she refuses to engage the Opposition on this deal, Rahul Gandhi has accused her of being a “liar” and Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister called Gandhi a “clown prince”. The BJP believes that the Congress is desperate to make the Rafale a key electoral plank ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha poll and hopes to, by constantly repeating the allegations, make muck stick on Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
The French have been dragged into this quagmire constantly, first with the current French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron and now with some apparently explosive revelations by former French President Francois Hollande on the choice of Reliance-ADAG, which have been denied by the current French administration and by the Rafale’s manufacturer Dassault themselves.
On one thing there is no doubt, the Congress has managed to put the Rafale deal front and centre in the English-language media, although the deal has been ignored for the large part by regional media. And while all this is going on, the Indian Air Force has started sending its pilots to France to train on their aircraft. The earlier Congress allegations on the apparently inflated price have been answered by Defence journalists who have explained that the higher price is due to modifications made to the India specification aircraft.
But the Congress seems determined to make the allegations stick, their leadership wants to do to Modi what the Opposition led by VP Singh at that time, did to Rajiv Gandhi around the Bofors scandal in 1989. But while the allegations raised by the Congress are being answered by private citizens, the seemingly stoic silence of the Government on the scandal is extremely surprising and supporters of the Prime Minister are surprised and even shocked. Is it because the BJP is confident that this will not become an electoral issue or is it because they want the Congress to make this the main plank for 2019 instead of other crucial issues, such as the lack of jobs, and then answer the allegations conclusively ahead of the hustings.
Whatever the strategy, this issue has been going on for far too long and in these days of short attention spans a sort of fatigue is setting in despite a constant drip in allegations and counter-allegations. It would be smart of the Government to finally put the allegations to bed or for the Opposition to come out with a clinching evidence that proves that Modi himself is corrupt.
Courtesy: The Pioneer