Rafale deal: No option other than JPC probe, says Antony

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 05, 2021

Former Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony   -  The Hindu

‘Why are the PM and Defence Minister silent even after the French authorities have ordered an investigation’

Former Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony said here on Monday that the Centre has no option but to order a JPC Probe into the Rafale “corruption”.

He alleged that the corruption in Rafale is prima facie apparent after the decision of the French Public Prosecution Services to appoint a judge to “investigate the corruption, influence-peddling and brazen favouritism” in the 36-aircraft deal.

He charged that the “intriguing silence of the Narendra Modi government points towards mal-intent” to hush up the corruption. The refusal of the BJP government to probe and punish the guilty is even more astonishing, pointing towards a concerted effort to bury the scam,” he added.

‘Norms flouted’

Antony alleged that Modi went to Paris on April 10, 2015 and unilaterally announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft without going through any tender process and in complete derogation of the Defence Procurement Procedure. “Every defence expert was shocked by this unilateral order which is India’s biggest defence deal. It was even more surprising because there was an ongoing negotiation for purchase of 126 Rafale aircraft in pursuance of an international tender, which envisaged 108 aircraft to be made in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and 18 to be purchased in fly away condition. This international tender for 126 aircraft also envisaged the all important ‘Transfer of Technology’ to India,” the former Defence Minister claimed.

He said the BJP hasn’t explained the reasons for reducing the number of aircraft. “What is, indeed, mysterious is the fact that despite 48 hours having lapsed, the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister have decided to maintain a complete silence on the French Public Prosecution Services ordering an investigation into the deal.

‘Escaping accountability?’

The simple question is why has the Government chosen to remain mum? Why have the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister not come forward to react on the shocking and sensational development of a corruption probe in the Rafale deal by the Public Prosecution Services of France? Can Modi Government escape accountability for corruption allegations by its intriguing silence? Is it not the responsibility of the Government to come forward and accept the truth?” Antony asked.

Published on July 05, 2021

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