Cong steps up heat on Rafale deal

Manish Tewari

Stepping up pressure on the Modi government, the Congress on Wednesday renewed its demand for setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine the Rafale fighter jet deal.

The Congress demand came soon after the Supreme Court ordered the Modi government to submit details on the pricing of the fighter jets and the decision on choosing the offset partner within the next 10 days.

Congress leader Manish Tewari said the apex Court observation were a vindication of its stand and would pierce the veil of secrecy the government has tried to put on the fighter aircraft deal.

"A Joint Parliamentary Committee must be constituted immediately. All the files relating to the Rafale transaction must be handed over to the Joint Parliamentary Committee so that all the facts transparently come out in the public domain," Tewari told reporters here.

The former Union minister termed "extremely critical" the observation of the apex court asking the government to share as far as possible the selection process for the Indian offset partner in the defence deal with the petitioners and public.

"On pricing, which is the most significant part of the deal, the court has said that the government needs to file an affidavit to claim confidentiality. This is an extremely critical observation by the Supreme Court," Tewari said.

Earlier, Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Modi government's "boat of corruption" will sink after the Supreme Court directives on the Rafale deal.

"The BJP government, which is full of corruption, can no longer remain above investigations. The accused can no longer run away from the JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) probe," Surjewala said.

He said the Rafale scam was now fully ripe for an investigation and no more excuses would be entertained.

The Congress had accused the Modi government of huge corruption in helping Anil Ambani's company, Reliance Defence Ltd, to be the offset partner in the deal with Dassault Aviation for buying 36 fighter jets.

It had also accused the government of purchasing the fighter aircraft at a higher price than what was negotiated by the previous UPA government.

Since July, the Congress has been making persistent efforts to bring the Rafale deal at the centre stage of the political discourse by organising protest marches, petitioning state governors, the President and hammering away at the Modi government at every election rally.

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Cong steps up heat on Rafale deal

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