Rafale deal: Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha say it is a textbook case of criminal misconduct
In a stinging indictment of the government, two former ministers during NDA regime-Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha hit out at the Rs. 58,000 crore deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets signed in 2016, calling the deal “a textbook case of criminal misconduct” and demanding a forensic audit of the entire deal by the government’s top auditor.
“I can tell you as a person who handled the matter in regard to Bofors… that Bofors was absolutely nothing compared to this,” Arun Shourie said, referring to the 1986 Bofors Howitzer gun deal that exploded in the Congress’s face and cost then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi a chance to return to power in the next 1989 general election.
Shourie was a journalist before he joined the BJP and is seen to have led the reportage on the Bofors case.
The attack on the Rafale deal comes after a series of statements made by Congress president Rahul Gandhi who has said that the government is trying to block attempts in the media to independently report what the Congress calls a scam.
Gandhi scaled up the attack on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in parliament last month, accusing her of lying to the country when she contended a secrecy pact didn’t allow the government to put out details of the deal.
The charge was forcefully rebutted by the minister, who called it “absolutely wrong”. “It was agreement of secrecy,” she said in her strident rebuttal that also quoted the French President Emmanuel Macron’s interviews to two media organisations.
Another key allegation that was reiterated at Wednesday’s briefing was that there was a crony capitalist arrangement that ensured that Anil Ambani’s Rafale Defence was awarded the offset contract for the deal.
It is this involvement of the private company that is at the heart of the opposition allegation that the fighter jets bought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government were overpriced.
(Featured Image – The Financial Express)