French judge to probe Rafale deal; political row erupts again | India News – Times of India
Home Most Viewed French judge to probe Rafale deal; political row erupts again | India News – Times of India
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French judge to probe Rafale deal; political row erupts again | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: A fresh political fight broke out over the Rafale deal on Saturday, following reports in the French media that a judicial investigation has been launched over allegations levelled by an anti-corruption NGO. Congress demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe, while BJP said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was being used as a “pawn” by competing defence companies.
“Corruption in the Rafale deal has come out clearly now. The stand of Congress and Rahul Gandhi has been vindicated today after the French government ordered a probe,” said AICC spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, pointing to reports of the investigation ordered by the French public prosecution agency into the Rs 59,000 crore deal.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra cited the SC verdict and the comptroller and auditor general’s report, which had found no wrongdoing in the defence deal between the Indian and French governments, to reject Congress’ allegations. Reports of a middleman in the deal were about an individual named and investigated for a UPA-era defence contract.
According to French media reports, the judicial investigation has been ordered by the country’s national financial prosecutors’ office, following investigative website Mediapart’s claims in April of wrongdoings in the deal as well as a complaint filed by French NGO Sherpa that specialises in financial crimes.
“The highly sensitive probe into the inter-governmental deal signed in 2016 was formally opened on June 14th,” Mediapart said. Mediapart journalist Yann Philippin, who filed a series of reports on the deal, said a first complaint was “buried” in 2019 by a former PNF chief. In April, Mediapart, citing an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency, reported that Dassault Aviation had paid about one million euros to an Indian middleman.
Dassault Aviation has rejected the allegations of corruption, saying no violations were reported in the frame of the contract.
Surjewala attacked the government, saying, “When the French government has accepted that there is corruption in the deal, should a JPC probe be not held in the country where the corruption took place?” He added that the demand should not be seen through a partisan political lens, but viewed as a concern for national security. “Will the Prime Minister, like the French, now answer to the nation and tell when will he submit his government to a JPC probe into the Rafale scam?”
AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth, said Lord Buddha.”
Patra countered Congress, saying, “The way Rahul Gandhi is behaving, it will not be an exaggeration to say that he is being used as a pawn by competing companies. He has been lying right from the beginning on the issue. Probably, he is acting as an agent or some member of the Gandhi family has been doing so for a competing company.”
Patra said Rahul had to tender an unconditional apology in the Supreme Court for claiming that the court’s observations are a vindication of his allegations. “There is a non-disclosure clause about the pricing of the deal…However, details have been given to the Supreme Court and CAG, which gave clean chit and said there was no wrongdoing in the process, procedure and acquisition of Rafale fighter planes,” he said.
Congress accused the government of massive irregularities in the deal, alleging that it was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore, against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government during negotiations for the MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft). Prior to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, Congress raised several questions about the deal and alleged corruption but the government rejected all charges.
Watch French probe into Rafale deal sparks fresh political fight in India

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