With the 2019 general elections coming up, the Rafale controversy has become the cynosure of topics in the parliament. On one hand, the opposition is mudslinging the current government over the Rafale issue, whereas the current government is constantly lampooning the opposition for dragging the Rafale argument without any substantial evidence, given that the Supreme court has already given a clean chit to the BJP in the Rafale case.
What is the Rafale Controversy?
The Defence Ministry of India signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets. The deal, estimated to be worth Rs 58,000 crore has been signed with France’s Dassault Aviation. What has sparked controversy is the fact that the UPA once negotiated with France for the procurement of Rafale for a higher number of jets and for a much lesser price under PM Manmohan Singh’s tenure.
The second bone of contention in the Rafale Controversy has been the involvement of the Ambani’s. The presence of Anil Ambani, during the official procurement meeting and to be chosen as the official partner of Dassault Aviation over India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Things went amuck when an online media report in France reported that the Indian government provoked Dassault to choose Ambani as an official partner. Further, the Former French President Francois Hollande added fuel to the fire when he said that there was pressure to accept Ambani as a partner in the deal. Soon after, he retracted his statements and said that the partnership was done as it made commercial sense.
Ruckus in the Parliament
The ongoing parliament session didn’t take long to become a battlefront, where the opposition and the government entered in a spree of the fray. Congress President, Rahul Gandhi led the opposition and was constantly asserting allegations and hounding accusations on the current government over the discrepancy in the Rafale deal. He bulldozed manifold charges on the Modi government of wrongdoings in the Rafale deal and blamed it of gratifying in crony capitalism.
The response of Arun Jaitley
In the counter-attack, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused Rahul Gandhi of falling into the category of those people who have a natural dislike for ‘the truth’. Further, he said, that every allegation raised against the Rafale deal had been found invalid by the judges of the Supreme court.
Eventually, the opposition went on a rampage and threw tailored paper planes on Arun Jaitley objecting his involvement in the matter by stating that Rafale matter is under the purview of the Defence Ministry and shall only be answered by the respective entities.
Defense Minister takes charge
The Defence Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman gave a befitting reply to the Congress and defended the deal for the 36 Rafale fighter planes. She said that Congress lost an election due to scams like Bofors, but BJP would instead win the election due to deals like Rafale. Further, she asserted that BJP doesn’t do Defence dealing, unlike the UPA and instead, only focuses on protecting and strengthening the national security of Indian citizens.
Rahul Gandhi’s direct onslaught on PM Modi
Throughout the session, Rahul Gandhi was seen fusillading the Modi lead government for charges of corruption and for favoring crony capitalists. He further accused the Prime Minister of fleeing the debate on the controversial Rafale deal as Narendra Modi missed the parliament session for a University visit.
He comically flaked the PM and said that instead of responding to the vexed questions of the alleged wrongdoings, the PM is visiting Lovely Professional University and lecturing the students of honesty.
What to expect
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has given the Rafale deal a clean chit. However, Congress is adamant on its stand that the pricing of the deal should be made public, which according to the BJP is not feasible as per the agreement term signed by India with France.
According to the BJP, it is a matter of sheer absurdity that despite the SC judgment that has given the BJP a clean chit in the Rafale deal, such sensitive Defence issues are being discussed in public thereby compromising the security of the country.
While there may be no more formal investigations into the matter, it is clear that as we head for the Lok Sabha election, the political vendetta between the two parties of our nation has ensued in the formation of a dramatic debate that potentially compromises National Security and damages our global image.