CPI-M demands SC-monitored SIT probe into Rafale deal

New Delhi: Stepping up the attack on the Modi government over the Rafale fighter jet deal with France, the CPI-M on Thursday alleged “mega corruption” in the acquisition and demanded a Supreme Court- monitored SIT probe.

The party also accused the Modi government of mismanaging the economy, saying that corruption and institutionalization of cronyism under the government had driven the Indian economy to hit its lowest point.

Addressing a press conference here, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “New facts are coming out on the irregularities of the government in clinching the Rafale deal. And for the first time we are hearing that.”

He said the most sensational of these was the government’s own admission in the Supreme Court that “there is no sovereign guarantee from the French government but only a letter of comfort” which is not legally enforceable to ensure the delivery of this high value contract.

“It’s not just economics causing harm but is also a grave threat to India’s security,” Yechury said, adding that the whole idea about buying the aircraft was for the Air Force.

“And as guarantee is not there there would be difficulty in getting international arbitration,” he said. “Why was the deal done in such manner?”

On the price of the Rafale aircraft, the CPI-M leader said: “The government stated in March 2018 that the cost of the basic aircraft is Rs 670 crore per aircraft but, in September 2016 the government had pointed out that it was Rs 60,000 crore for 36 aircraft including all additions or modifications making it Rs 1,600 crore per plane.”

Even the Dassault CEO Eric Trappier had stated that price of 36 fly away aircraft was now equal to 18 flyaway jets ordered in MMRCA deal earlier.

“These figures obviously do not corroborate. Dassault CEO in March 2015 had stated that deal was nearly complete with HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) in line with the requirements. And it is now crystal clear that the deal was announced by the Prime Minister in Paris in April 2015 while the Defence Procurement Council met and finalized it in May 2015.

“This is apart from the revenue of Rs 284 crore already paid to the inactive Reliance defence account. Thus this needs to be investigated by nothing less than a Supreme Court monitored SIT probe that can bring out the truth and fix accountability,” he said, adding that it was a mega scam.

He also demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee over the manner in which demonetization was implemented in the country.

Yechury said that the declared objectives of the move were never designed to be achieved and questions now arose as to who benefited.

He also accused the Modi government of undermining the independence of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The CPI-M leader also said that the immediate gains that the Prime Minister and the BJP was looking at through this complicit crony capitalism is “corporate funding” for electoral benefit.

“Therefore we demand the provision for unlimited and anonymous corporate funding of political parties must be nullified forthwith, by withdrawing the electoral bonds,” he said.