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Rafale deal: Congress accuses govt of promoting ‘crony capitalism’; BJP says allegations levelled in frustration

The Congress on Friday accused the government of “deceiving” the country and promoting crony capitalism in awarding a private entity the contract for the multi-crore Rafale aircraft deal, which it described as the “mother of all deals”.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2018 22:01 IST
HT Correspondent
Congress,crony capitalism,Rafale aircraft deal
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the defence offset contract went to a private company, Reliance Defence, which had zero experience of manufacturing fighter aircraft.(PTI/File Photo)

The Congress on Friday stepped up its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale aircraft contract, charging his government with deceiving the country and promoting “crony capitalism” in awarding what it called “the mother of all deals.”

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dismissed the accusation, saying the Congress was repeating the claim in “frustration after its allegations were proved wrong” by Union ministers and also the French government.

“The culture of crony capitalism is the DNA of the Modi government. It is truer than ever in case of the R60,145 crore Rafale deal,” said Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala

In 2016, India purchased 36 Dassault Aviation-made Rafale fighter jets. Subsequently, the French military plane-maker picked Reliance Defence, a unit of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group, as its local partner.

Surjewala alleged that the firm had been picked although it had “zero experience” of manufacturing fighter aircraft. He also claimed that the company was formed just 12 days before the announcement of the purchase of the 36 Rafale aircraft in France on April 10, 2015.

When contacted, a Reliance Defence spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations levelled by the Congress.

Surjewala said his party will continue to demand a statement by the Prime Minister on the Rafale deal during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.

“The art of deceiving India is the Modi government’s mantra in this mother of all defence deals. Intrigue, conspiracy, deception and loss to public exchequer have marred the unilateral purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft by the government,” the Congress leader said.

BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi hit back at the Congress.

“It is levelling baseless allegations after the Modi government has worked to start domestic production,” he said, maintaining that both the defence minister and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had given a point-by-point rebuttal of all the allegations.

Trivedi said that the BJP had never made allegations on defence deals, saying it was members of the Congress government or foreign countries that first alleged corruption in cases such as the deal with Bofors for the purchase of howitzer guns or with AgustaWestland for the purchase of helicopters.

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 17:50 IST