Rafale Deal Row: Congress vs BJP!

Syed Basharat

In June 2018 Indian National Congress issued a statement under the theme of BJP & Corruption: A saga of the last four years, where they alleged that the corruption has increased under the Modi Government. The statement reads as follows “Almost five years have passed since the Narendra Modi government assumed power.  One of the biggest promises of the PM prior to his election was bringing down corruption in India. “Na Khaunga, Na Khane Dunga”, the PM had proclaimed. He had promised to be the ‘chowkidar’ of the nation for 60 months to protect national wealth. The extremely ham-handed decision of Demonetisation wiped out 86% of the currency, jobs, and even about 100 lives.

According to CMS  study, which covered 13 states (including six which are ruled by the BJP) and 11 public services, concluded that 75% of Indian households think that that the level of the corruption in public service has either increased or remained the same during the last 12 months. While 38% of households across India feel that the level of corruption has increased, another 37% of households feel that the level of corruption in public services has remained the same as before. At least 27% of the households had experienced corruption at least once while availing any one of the 11 public services covered by the report”. Survey Conducted by CMS, the CMS-India Corruption Study 2018 points out that the number of people who doubt Narendra Modi’s commitment to fighting corruption in public life has increased in 2018. “Perception about Union Government’s commitment to reduce corruption in public services has seen a decline from 41% in 2017 to 31% in 2018,” says the study, emphasising that people in the BJP-ruled states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh also doubt Modi government’s commitment to contain corruption.

The Modi government deserves a special mention in ‘corruption’ for the Rafale deal, in which state-owned HAL was bypassed for a private entity in a scam that cost Rs 1,30,000 crore. A deal was signed by the Modi govt to purchase 36 Rafale jets at a rate much higher than what was negotiated by the UPA government. Modi government has refused to make public the price of the aircraft, saying a secrecy clause exists between India and France. However, this secrecy clause only binds India from revealing the technical specifications and operational capabilities of the aircraft, and not the price. French manufacturer Dassault has already released the total price of 36 aircraft, which is about ₹60,000 crore. This makes the per aircraft price to be ₹1,660 crore, as against ₹526, as negotiated by the UPA. The UPA’s price included a transfer of technology (ToT), and the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was to make 108 aircraft. Under the new deal, there is no ToT, and HAL, which has a good record in defence production, was superseded by Reliance Aerospace owned by Anil Ambani. Also, as per Dassault Aviation’s Annual Report, Qatar and Egypt brought the same aircraft at Rs 1319 crore. No prior approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security committee was sought. According to Ajay Shukla (columnist on Strategic Affairs, Defence and Diplomacy at Business Standard newspaper), “To buy the seventh kind of fighter; we already have six. Just 36 of those fighters. You are putting in place the whole logistics infrastructure and maintenance and operational infrastructure for just 36 Rafale aircraft. It’s a waste of money. There is only one reason for buying 36 aircraft, and that is if you are using it as a nuclear delivery platform and potentially, it has been argued that the Rafale is being bought as a nuclear delivery platform. But even there, India has much better nuclear delivery options. If there was a requirement it could have modified the Bhramos missile to deliver nuclear weapons and launch those from the Sukhoi-30. There really is no good argument for buying the Rafale.

According to an RTI filed by Ramvir Tanwar in 2018,the BJP had spent an amount of Rs. 2,221.11 crores on advertising through electronic media. Recently  The “Economic Times” reported that BJP ads ranked number one across all channels in the five states going into assembly elections- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram. Narendra Modi government has spent about Rs 5,000 crores on advertising during its tenure of nearly four-and-a-half years, as much as the Manmohan Singh government spent in the ten years it was in power. To meet the increasing advertising costs of BJP, Modi govt is resorting to different ways of corruption. As BJP’s rise was mainly due to Conglomerate of multinational companies like Ambanis /Tata’s etc, there are chances that apart from selling/privatizing CEL, some more profitable production units might be sold in the coming days to facilitate the party financers as part of the preparation of LS Polls 2019. The media must blow up the story to expose the corruptions of Modi/BJP and may project that such huge procurement by a country whose majority of the population lives under poverty line, is unfortunate and inhuman. ( Source Press statements, National Papers, CMS report 2018)

Syed Basharat, Political observer and can be reached @syed.basharat11@gmail.com

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