Manipulating facts

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/11/2019 11:58:49 AM IST

 With Congress president  Rahul  Gandhi, who is also the opposition  frontrunner  for the post of prime minister, firing fresh salvos against Modi over the multi-billion Rafale deal, after another set of documents was published in The Hindu; the issue appears to get murkier by the day. The Hindu had published a letter written by then defence secretary to the minister of defence Manohar Parrikar taking strong except to “parallel negotiations” being done by the PMO with the French over the Rafale deal. Then defence secretary G.Mohan Kumar had written a strong note of protest to then defence minister and present Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar that the interference by the PMO in opening a parallel negotiation with the French undermined the official negotiating committee under the MoD. The Rafale deal was announced in 2016 after PM Modi’s talks in Paris with then French president Francois Hollande. The Congress accused Modi of violating the rule for defence procurement by taking unilateral decisions on pricing and other matters. The Congress contends that the government had finalised an overpriced deal to benefit Anil Ambani, whose firm Reliance Defence, despite lacking experience, was recommended as an offset partner for Dassault, the company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft. Both Dassault and the government have denied the Congress allegations. Those allegations received a boost after Francois Hollande, in an interview last year, said that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani’s company for the offset clause. The Modi government, unlike the Congress, is more centralised, organised and totally dominated by its  two most powerful duo- the prime minister and the party president. The government has deployed bureaucrats and service chiefs to defend its every decision.  For instance, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) a government undertaking which is the only company that has vast experience, technical know-how and capability, was overlooked. The Modi government has instead chosen a private company which had gone bankrupt, as per media reports and  which has no experience or expertise  as the offset contractor. The government used the recently appointed chairman of HAL to justify the government’s decision in denying HAL from being chosen for offset contract. Amid controversy over the Rafale deal with France, a group of top former bureaucrats had written a letter to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) demanding submission of audit reports on the fighter jet deal as early as possible. The CAG was expected to finalise its findings in the upcoming winter session of Parliament in December last year but that has been delayed. The delay has only fuelled further suspicions of manipulation of records to alter facts. The CAG report is now expected to be tabled within a few days. The very fact that the  country’s top most auditor could not table its report on 36 Rafale deal in the last monsoon session, was because the auditors were waiting for the deal to be fully executed along with the schedule of payment mode to the manufacturer. The government had cleverly  deployed the Air Force chief B.S.Dhanoa to defend the government to justify the deal. There is much that needs to be answered and these can be done if the Supreme Court steps in or when the next government orders a JPC, which the Modi government has rejected outright.  

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