Indian opposition parties’ demand over shabby Rafale deal gathers storm for Modi

ISLAMABAD, July 7 (APP): The opposition parties in India have demanded of Narendra Modi’s government to come clean ahead of monsoon parliament session over alleged 2016 Rafale jets corruption deal.

The opposition parties have been consistently demanding fair and impartial probe into alleged corruption of Modi’s government, gathering severe political storm.

The Congress and left parties have made a fresh demand for a probe into the Rafale purchase deal by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) in light of French government instituting a judicial commission to probe into these allegations, Tribune India reported.

It said the Congress and the CPI(M) are set to raise the issue in parliament during the monsoon session.

The Congress has claimed that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government during negotiations for Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts (MMRCA).

On July 3, a French judge ordered judicial inquiry to probe 2016 multi-billion-dollar Rafale jet fleet deal between France and India to expose the real characters in the highest offices of the two countries.

On June 14, an independent probe initially set off to investigate suspected corruption and favouritism around €7.8 billion ($9.2 billion) deal over 38 Rafale fighter jets, following a decision by France’s public financial prosecutor (PNF).

Mediapart, a France based investigative journal carried out in-depth analysis prompting French government to order the judicial probe.

Following Mediapart’s expose in April, French anti-corruption NGO Sherpa filed a complaint with the tribunal of Paris citing “corruption”, “money laundering”, “influence peddling”, “favouritism” and unwarranted tax waivers pegged to the deal.

Sherpa’s lawyers William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth in a statement to Mediapart had maintained that the launch of the probe “will necessarily favour the emergence of the truth and the identification of those responsible in what increasingly resembles a state scandal”.

According to details of the case, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and business tycoon Anil Ambani nexus has been overshadowing the Rafale jets purchase deal from Dassault Aviation, a French manufacturing company.

Ambani’s Reliance Group has harvested underhand dividends from the deal.

Ignoring public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with experience in aviation industry Modi brought forward Anil Ambani’s Reliance group, a private entity with zero experience in aviation industry but is known for its closeness with Modi.

Reliance Defence Ltd (RDL) was promoted as Indian partner to fulfill ‘offest obligations’ of the deal by setting up of a joint venture to manufacture aerospace components. Thus Modi preferred RDL over state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment had signed an agreement with “Rouge international” firm/entry owned by actress Julie Gayet, Hollande’s partner; to produce a film before the Rafale deal was sealed. Here goes a “filmiest” angle of the episode.

Dassault Aviation had paid close to one million Euros to Defsys Solutions, one of its sub-contractors/ mid-sized company in India with 170 employees, for 50 models of aricraft  which were to be given as “gifts” to India.

The category of ‘gift’ by defence companies is treated as disproportionate and as a serious matter in France.

Defsys Solutions is owned by Sushen Gupta. The latter is an influential intermediary in arms deals who was arrested (26 March 2019) in New Delhi by India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED), a government agency tasked to fight economic crime/money laundering.

Separately, those payments were on top of an additional €1 million ($1.2 million) “gift” from Dassault to an Indian company to create 50 replicas of its Rafale jets, models which Dassault was not able to prove existed after an audit by the French anti-corruption agency (AFA).

That company, Defsys Solutions, is one of Dassault’s subcontractors in India – and was linked to Gupta, who had sent the invoice within six months of the 2016 deal being signed.

In March 2019, Gupta was arrested by the ED over a scam dubbed “Choppergate”, which centred on a €550 million ($650 million) contract for the sale to India of helicopters manufactured by Italian-British firm AgustaWestland.