A “comprehensive inquiry” will be ordered into the Rafale deal after the Congress comes to power at the Centre, senior party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, indicating a criminal probe could be conducted into the multi-billion dollar contract.
The role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, other government functionaries and private people will be probed, he said and exuded confidence that a Congress-led government will be formed after the election results are out.
“The day we come to power, just like in 72 hours or three days, loan waivers were taken care of in states (of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh), you will have a comprehensive inquiry. We have, in fact, asked for a JPC, but really speaking even an FIR and a criminal inquiry is not out of place,” he told PTI in an interview.
Asked if the Rafale issue has struck a chord with the people on the ground, Singhvi said one would have to wait and watch for it but he was confident that people do feel “cheated”.
“I have no doubt that somewhere in the psyche of the people it is embedded that yahaan daal mein kala nahin daal hi kaali hai (not just something, but everything seems to be fishy about the deal),” he said.
On whether the Rafale deal will be probed if the Congress comes to power, Singhvi said Congress president Rahul Gandhi has already said so earlier.
“You can stonewall as much as you like. This is quicksand, the more you struggle the more you will get sucked inside,” he said.
The Congress has alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal and claimed that Prime Minister Modi and Union ministers, as well as private players, were complicit in the “scam”.
However, the government has dismissed the allegations of any wrongdoing in the deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets.
On the issue of Election Commission’s alleged inaction and delay in ruling on complaints of poll code violations by Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, Singhvi said the Congress has made 10 representations to the EC starting April 1 only related to the duo.
All the 10 representations can be categorised into three categories –hate statements, dragging armed forces into cheap political debate and campaigning right next to the booth or around the booth which Modi has done in earlier years as well, Singhvi said.
“How is it possible that the same EC which bans on the same principle Yogi Adityanath does nothing for 30 long days (against PM and Shah). We have told the EC why are you not deciding. We also added that non-decision is a decision itself,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
It is sad that it needs a Supreme Court petition to activate the EC to take a decision, Singhvi rued.
On whether the Congress felt that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ with respect to its petitions, the former Union minister said: “Four phases are over, less than 200 seats are left. I have told the commission that the damage which had to be done is done.”
“You cannot press the rewind button on this one, but at least take action now,” he said.
The order should be of banning them from campaigning for 72 hours, 52 hours or 96 hours, he said, adding that the penalty must be much worse, but “when there is no action even this looks much better”.
Asked if the country has seen the most vicious campaign this election with so many complaints to the EC, he said the quantum of complaints increase when egregious violations increase.
“No prime minister even of the BJP, Mr Vajpayee, even of the Janata Dal, Mr VP Singh, even of the United Front, Mr Gowda, even of other political colours other than the BJP and the Congress, has gone to the extent of egregious, repetitive, wanton violations,” he said.
Singhvi asserted that as the “mega policeman”, the EC has not discharged its duty with respect to Modi and Shah.
“It is unfortunate, that the principle that Mr Modi or Mr Shah are not above the EC, not above the Model Code of Conduct, has not been followed, and therefore, certainly there is a lowering of the prestige of the EC. Certainly, there is a feeling that there is a hesitation totally action against the top people,” he alleged.
He said even despite action now, the criticism of the EC on complaints about Modi and Shah would still be 100 per cent valid.
Just like the rewind button cannot be pressed, the criticism can’t be taken back just by taking action, because the damage has been caused for one month which is irreversible, he said.
Singhvi also alleged that there is no doubt that there had been a weakening of venerable institutions, from the RBI to the CBI to bureaucratic appointments and other institutions, saying ultimately it is the men who make the institutions.
Asked if the EC was also among the institutions eroded, Singhvi said: “Well its conduct certainly shows that it has failed on this score”.
Talking about the issue of the Congress chief’s contempt court case in Supreme Court (SC) over attribution of the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ slogan to the top court, Singhvi said: “You must realise that Rahul Gandhi is man enough, sincere enough and humble enough. Day one, he said my attribution to you (SC) is wrong. I don’t intend to attribute it to SC.”
“Equally he has repeated, that he will never apologise or regret that his stand is that Modi and his party are complicit (in the corruption in the Rafale deal),” the former Union minister said.