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Rafale deal report: Cong, BJP in ugly sparring match

Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told a press conference here that the French news portal’s report has proved that Rahul Gandhi’s oft-repeated allegations of corruption in the deal were correct.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The Congress on Monday sought a thorough probe in the Rafale defence deal and demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after a French media report claimed that 1.1 million euros was paid to a “middleman” by the aircraft manufacturer.

Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told a press conference here that the French news portal’s report has proved that Rahul Gandhi’s oft-repeated allegations of corruption in the deal were correct.

While there was no immediate response from the BJP.

The government on the charges, they have in the past denied any irregularities in the country’s biggest defence deal. Surjewala said as per the French portal’s report, an investigation conducted by the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) has revealed that after signing of the deal in 2016, Rafale’s manufacturer Dassault allegedly paid 1.1 million to a middleman~ Defsys Solutions ~ which is an Indian company.

“Does it now not require a full and independent investigation into India’s biggest defence deal to find out as to how much bribery and commission in reality, if any, was paid and to whom in the Indian government,” he asked at a press conference. “Will Prime Minister Modi answer to the nation now?” he asked.

Surjewala said this amount was shown as expenditure by Dassault as “gifts to clients”.

Surjewala said that as per the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), any evidence of middleman or commission or bribery has serious penal consequences including the banning of the supplier, cancellation of contract, registration of an FIR and imposition of heavy financial penalties on the company.

“Has it not vitiated the Rafale deal entailing imposition of heavy financial penalties on Dassault, banning of the company, registration of an FIR and other penal consequences,” he asked.

He asked whether the payment of 1.1 million shown by Dassault as ‘Gifts to Clients’ in reality a commission paid to the middleman for the Rafale deal.

BJP rubbishes charges: The BJP on Monday dismissed as “completely baseless” the allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal, stressing that the Supreme Court had rejected a demand for a probe in the purchase of the fighter aircraft and the CAG also found nothing wrong.

He said the allegations were “baseless” and suggested that a report in the French media about the alleged financial irregularity in the deal may be due to “corporate rivalry” in that country.

~With inputs from PTI~