New Delhi: In a huge embarrassment to the Modi-led NDA government, the expose of irregularities in Rafale deal makes the current Government’s claims of Zero tolerance for corruption fall flat.
According to a report published in Janta ka Reporter, the Rafale deal involves the aspect of crony capitalism exposing how PM Modi had taken unilateral decision to purchase 36 Rafale Jets in place of previously agreed 126 jets. Mr. Modi has bypassed everyone to struck the deal that severely undermined India’s National security.
With the first part of expose by Janta Ka Reporter, as the pressure on the Modi government was mounted by the Principal Opposition Congress and other opposition parties, the Modi sympathetic media was the first to come to the rescue of the government citing irrelevant reasons for the deal struck by Mr. Modi and making useless claims for increased of the jets.
Mr.Modi’s statements regarding the deal also contradict with the then Defence Minister, now current Chief Minister of Goa, Mr.Manohar Parrikar who was least concerned with the National security of the Nation and gave contradictory statements in Interviews given to the NDTV and DoorDarshan.
In the same interview to NDTV and in another to Doordarshan in April 2015, Parrikar stressed the point of price per aircraft to be around Rs 715 crore.
In some other interactions with TV journalists later, he stressed the same and repeated that the government of the day was not in a position to spend Rs 90,000 crore for 126 aircrafts. But he never bothered to clarify the logic of spending almost Rs 60,000 crore for 36 aircrafts.
In another interaction with journalists, Parrikar said that India did not need 126 Rafale aircrafts and it would have cost Rs 1.3 lakh crore. Nobody knows how a huge difference of Rs 40,000 crore came from the original amount stated by the Defence Minister Himself.
The Only thing the current government is bothered about is to blame the previous UPA-led congress. In a media interaction, Mr. Manohar Parrikar was quick to blame the former Defence Minister AK Antony for deciding to go ahead with 126 aircrafts and with a “faltered tendering process”. Though the Government of the day has still not initiated any inquiry.
The statements of Mr.Manohar Parrikar, who is busy backing the decisions of PM Modi, also met backlash from two former Air Chiefs who agreed that buying just 36 Jets in place of 126 is “Unacceptable.”
Air Chief Marshal (Retid) Fali Homi Major had said, “To me just 36 Rafales do not make too much of sense. But, my gut feeling is and I am sure the present Air Force hierarchy, the ministry of defence and the government of India are fully aware that these 36 won’t be enough…Because 36 Rafales will amount to just two Squadrons.”
Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Pradeep Naik too agreed and said, “Throughout the statements made by the defence minister, the emphasis is on cost and not necessarily the numbers…126 was the number based on our initial assessment how much we require. Today, the Air Force has 34 Squadrons. Our requirement is 45 Squadrons if you want two front contingency.”
An anonymous blogger who uses the acronym “Saaf Baat” was the first one to point out the anomalies in the price variation and a possible angle of corruption in the deal way back in October 2016.
The Government’s narrative to support its claims are add-ons along with life time maintenance cost and meteor and scalp missiles as the reason for price increase. A helmet mounted display is also included. BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra-controlled DNA was the leading publication which spread this narrative.
The Modi Government should come out with complete facts and supportive evidence. Until then it remains a case of compromising national security interests for personal gratifiation.