Cong alleges govt ‘manipulated’ Rafale deal process

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New Delhi:  The Congress on Wednesday accused the Modi government of “manipulating” the process of Rafale fighter jet agreement by “punishing” bureaucrats who raised objections to the deal and rewarding “obliging officials”.

The opposition party also reiterated its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe.

Congress spokesperson S Jaipal Reddy said defence deals of this magnitude are first examined by departments, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security and then sealed.

He alleged that in 2016, the then joint secretary was overruled by the Director General acquisition for the go ahead to the deal, after a new officer was brought in the post, in place of person who had the reputation of being unbending.

“To manage this process, bureaucrats were bulldozed, bullied, punished, promoted, the whole process of ratification was fabricated, stage-managed, and manipulated. Such a thing has not happened in the history of independent India,” Reddy alleged, claiming that “obliging officers” were “rewarded” later.

The opposition led by the Congress has been accusing the government of benefiting Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Ltd. from the Rafale deal. The government and Reliance Defence have dismissed all the allegations as false.

The Rafale controversy took a new turn last month after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000-crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault, the manufacturer of Rafale jets.

The Indian government proposed the name of Reliance as offset partner for the French aerospace giant, he said. However, the government maintained its stand that it had no role in choosing the Indian offset partner for Dassault.

Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.

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