By Shameem Faizee
Though much more will be revealed in the coming days about the dirty game that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the crony capitalist Anil Ambani have played in finalising the Rafale deal, whatever has come to light so far is enough to outright cancel the deal. It is the biggest corruption scam in which about Rs. 30,000 crore of the public money has been assured to Anil Ambani for doing nothing.
Let us put the Rafale Scam in the simplest possible words. Indian Air Force opted for buying 126 Rafale Aircraft when the UPA was in power. Basic price and modalities were almost worked out and as per our practice the public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was to build 108 fighter jets as the remaining 18 were to be supplied in flying condition by the French defence company Dassault. This was the situation even after the Narendra Modi government took over. In March 2015, defence ministry has confirmed the deal and French side has claimed that the deal with HAL is being finalised.
Then came the Modi’s France visit. He took Anil Ambani with him. In Paris the Indian prime minister announced the cancellation of the earlier Rafale deal and announced that now India will buy only 26 fighter planes but the amount will be the same that was being paid for 126 Rafale planes. Besides, the HAL was ousted and a newly floated company of Anil Ambani was inducted. New trovisions were made so that the French company pays half of the money it receives from India to Anil Ambani. It means India is paying almost three times the price of fighter jet that was earlier agreed. It came to about Rs.60, 000 cores. Now French side was made to promise half of it, Rs.30, 000 crore to Anil Ambani Company.
To justify this loot of public money and putting Rs. 30,000 crore in the pocket of crony capitalist, the government has been cooking up stories. It claimed that Rafale deal was between the two governments. Now its own affidavit has contradicted it. French government has not given any sovereign undertaking. There is only a “letter of comfort” from a French government department. The deal is with French company Dassault.
Dassault is the beneficiary of enhanced price but Modi government is using its CEO to get a certificate of “honesty” on the basis that he does not tell lie. It is perhaps the biggest joke in this type of trade.
Dassault CEO claims that his company chose Ambani’s company on its own. He did not explain why the choice was a company that was floated a fortnight before the deal was announced. Like Dassault, Ambani’s companies are also indebted and defaulters. Is it an agreement to meet their losses and defaults by looting the public money? Both Dassault and Ambani’s firm are sharing the loot of public money. Hence the only way out is to totally cancel the deal. Dassault and Anil Ambani are beneficiaries of the loot.
There must be somebody who has facilitated this loot? Since the Rafale deal was announced, numbers of individuals and public interest litigants have raised questions. Two former union ministers and a known lawyer approached the CBI for an impartial enquiry of Rafale deal. They submitted documents also. In between the CBI itself was thrown to chaos. Obviously, somebody was interested that the Rafale deal should not be probed by the CBI. Petitioners approached the Supreme Court.
Now the matter is before the Supreme Court. Whatever has been revealed so far, it is obvious that the government has been spreading lies and rumours to hide the reality of Rafale scam. The case needs to be probed at two levels. The loot of public money by enhancing the price of the fighter jets by three times and later making provision for transferring half of the amount to so-called offset Indian partner under the garb of promoting “make in India” could be annulled only by cancelling the deal altogether.
The second aspect is the organised corruption that has acquired unprecedented dimension during the four years of Modi regime. Under Narendra Modi, corruption and loot of public money has become the order of the day. Right from Sahara-Birla dairy to allotments of lands, plundering the resources of PSUs and undue favours to Adani and Ambanis, there are number of cases that need enquiry. Most of them will be taken up after the present regime is ousted next year.
At the moment, the Supreme Court, apart from cancelling the Rafale deal, should also order enquiry in the whole Rafale affair by an Apex Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) that should include defence experts. (IPA Service)