New Delhi: The ongoing controversy over the Rafale fighter jet deal is set to rock the Parliament on Tuesday as the Modi government is likely to table the CAG report on the same in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The CAG report on the government’s deal with French company Dassault to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets is set to be tabled today, a day before the end of the present Lok Sabha session.
The Rs 59,000-crore deal has generated a massive political controversy in the last few months, with the Congress alleging that corruption and impropriety, and the ruling dispensation defending the move.
Meanwhile, a NDTV report said that the CAG report, which is set to be tabled in the Parliament on Tuesday, has no mention of the pricing of the defence deal.
The report cited sources saying that the auditor was “explicitly told by the Defence Ministry that pricing details can’t be shared because of national security”.
The Congress on Monday said that if the “overt acts of malfeasance” in the contract are ignored by the CAG report, then it will “not be worth” the paper it is written on.
The opposition party’s statement came after a report in The Hindu claimed the Rafale deal between India and France involved “major and unprecedented” concessions from the Indian government. It reported that critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties and making payments through an escrow account were dropped days before the signing of the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).
Last week, The Hindu had claimed that the Ministry of Defence had raised strong objections to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with the French side.
The report cited a Defence Ministry note dated November 24, 2015 that was reportedly brought to the attention of then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and stated that parallel discussions by the PMO had “weakened the negotiating position of MoD and Indian Negotiating Team.”
However, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed the report as “flogging a dead horse” and accused the opposition of playing into the hands of multinational companies and vested interests.
Former minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Sunday alleged conflict of interest and asked the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi to recuse himself from auditing the deal as he was the finance secretary when the deal was negotiated.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley, however, rebutted the claims of Sibal saying that the Congress was casting aspersions on the institution of CAG based on “falsehood”.
“Another attack on the institution of CAG by the ‘Institution wreckers’ based on falsehood. After ten years in Government former UPA ministers still don’t know that Finance Secretary is only a designation given to the senior most secretary in the finance ministry,” Jaitley said a series of tweets Sunday.
Sibal said Mehrishi was the finance secretary from October 24, 2014 to August 30, 2015 and in between Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Paris on April 10, 2015 and announced the signing of the Rafale deal.
“…Finance Ministry plays an important role in these negotiations…Now it is clear that the Rafale deal happened under Rajiv Mehrishi. Now he is CAG. We met him twice on September 19 and October 4, 2018. We told him about the scam. We told him that the deal should be probed because it is corrupt. But how can he initiate a probe against himself,” Sibal had said.
The Rafale issue was even raised before the Supreme Court, which did not find any substance in the allegations.
However, the issue has continued to rock Parliament with Congress President Rahul Gandhi directly accusing the Prime Minister of benefiting industrialist Anil Ambani.