04/01/2019 5:53 PM IST

'Dirty Secrets Tumbling Out Of Rafale Files': Congress Launches Fresh Attack

Rahul Gandhi said Congress will launch a criminal investigation into the deal if it comes to power in 2019.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Congress on Friday fielded senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Randeep Surjewala to reiterate its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal.

The leaders issued a statement, alleging “dirty secrets, corruption and malfeasance” were tumbling out of the Rafale files. The statement said fresh revelations further “expose the brazen corrupt practices” in the Rafale deal.

“Shocking and stunning revelations expose a concerted conspiracy to cause loss to public exchequer, besides compromising national security. These were all approved by none less than PM Narendra Modi in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS),” the Congress leaders said in the joint statement.

Citing objections raised by the negotiating team that were recorded in the Rafale files, the Congress leaders alleged that Modi raised the benchmark price of the fighter jet deal. They accused the government of waiving the “advance and performance bank guarantee and sovereign guarantee.”

According to the objections, the Congress claimed, Modi paid a higher price for Rafale jets for India as compared to Qatar and Egypt and compromised India’s national security and India’s interests by ignoring the discount offered by Eurofighter.

Criminal investigation if Congress comes to power: Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said if his party came to power in 2019, a criminal investigation would be launched into the Rafale deal and those found guilty would be punished.

Speaking to the media outside the Parliament, Gandhi accused Modi of running away from the debate and posed a series of questions to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“Let me tell you that if we come to power in 2019, then there will be (an) investigation (into the Rafale deal). There will be a criminal investigation and the people responsible will be punished,” Gandhi told reporters.

He added that while the Supreme Court had said inquiring into the Rafale deal was not in its jurisdiction, but it did not say that an inquiry should not be carried out.

Gandhi said his questions were what the youth were asking Modi.

“Who decided to raise the price of the aircraft from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,600 crore? Whose decision was this? Was this an air force decision, was it the defence ministry’s decision or was it the prime minister’s decision? There has to be a clear-cut answer, no confusion....,” he said.

Gandhi also questioned the decision to reduce the number of aircrafts to be bought from 126 to 36.

“Who took this decision and were national security concerns considered when this decision was taken?” he asked.

(With PTI inputs)