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‘Undisputed’ Rafale Facts Make it Clear Why Modi Govt Never Set up Lokpal, Says Kapil Sibal

Sibal said if the government did not come out with truth as to who benefited by "sidelining" public-sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Rafale deal, the matter would be decided in the "people's court".

PTI

Updated:September 25, 2018, 11:22 PM IST
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‘Undisputed’ Rafale Facts Make it Clear Why Modi Govt Never Set up Lokpal, Says Kapil Sibal
File photo of senior Congress leader Kapil SIbal. (PTI)
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New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday claimed that the "silence" of the Modi government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale deal has made it clear why it has not constituted the Lokpal till now.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal said if the government did not come out with truth as to who benefited by "sidelining" public-sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Rafale deal, the matter would be decided in the "people's court".

"When we look at these undisputed facts on Rafale scam, we will know why Lokpal was never constituted. Had Lokpal been there, the truth would have come out," he told reporters, referring to the delay in appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

"If not 'Achche din', at least bring 'Sachche din' now by speaking the truth on the issue," he said, as the opposition party continued its attempts to corner the government on the issue of alleged corruption in Rafale fighter jet deal.

At a joint press conference with party leaders Priyanka Chaturvedi and Jaiveer Shergill, Sibal said they do not want to hear what the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Agriculture Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat have to say on the deal.

"We only want to hear what the Prime Minister has to say. He should come out with the facts of the deal," he demanded.

Sibal also accused the Modi government of compromising the country's security, transparency and honesty.

"We are concerned about the security of the country and the country should buy 126 Rafales. How they are going to get them, as they cannot afford to buy them. They have compromised on all fronts - security, transparency and honesty. We want to know why you cancelled the earlier deal and why left out HAL," he asked.

Narrating the "chronology of events", the former Union minister alleged that it points to a "conspiracy".

Sibal said that on March 28, 2015, Anil Ambani firm Reliance Defence was incorporated, and on March 25, 2015 Eric Trappier stated in a press conference that their deal between Dassault and HAL was almost completed as 95 per cent was through and only 5 per cent was remaining.

On March 11, 2015, he said, HAL and Dassault stated that the parts manufactured by each will be warranted by them respectively. "So Dassault CEO too was not aware what would happen on April 10, 2015," Sibal claimed.

On April 8, 2014, Sibal said the then Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said at a press conference that Rafale negotiations were not on the table with President Hollande and the defence minister at the time was in Goa inaugurating something.

"This means neither the foreign ministry, defence minister, nor Dassault knew what the prime minister will be doing," Sibal contended.

On April 10, 2015, the prime minister announced to buy 36 Rafale aircraft off-the-shelf and "this is undisputed fact", he said.

"Who knew that the Prime Minister Modi would change the deal? Who knew what Prime Minister Modi said to President Hollande? Only two people were aware of this - French president Hollande and Prime Minister Modi," he said.
"Only Hollande and Modi knew what transpired during their meeting...the prime minister should say what happened at the meeting. We want him to come out with the facts on the Rafale deal," he said.'

Sibal alleged "this is corruption that India has never seen". He said no prime minister has ever gone to another country and signed a defence deal without the defence minister being aware of it and without prior clearance from Cabinet committee on Security (CCS).

"This is contrary to the democratic way of functioning. You don't buy armaments like this," he said.

He claimed that two weeks after the PM announced buying of 36 Rafale off-the-shelf on April 10, 2015, on April 24, 2015 after the new deal was announced, Reliance Aerostructure was set up by Anil Ambani.

"Somehow Anil Ambani and PM Modi knew of each other’s' actions. But HAL had no idea," he pointed out.

"Surprisingly, the contract with HAL had two important aspects - of transfer of technology, which would help in the manufacture of 108 aircraft by HAL and this opportunity is now lost. This was also lost and 22,000 people did not get the jobs and how would Prime Minister Modi answer that.

"As Modi government was aware of all this before-hand, in June 2016 the defence sector policy was changed and FDI allowed to be increased to 49 per cent," he alleged.

On August 24, 2016, he said, CCS clearance was given, which should have been taken before hand, after the deal was finalised on April 10, 2015 and on September 23, 2016 an inter-governmental agreement was signed. The same day the offset agreement was also signed.

On BJP's charge that Rahul Gandhi was conspiring with Pakistan, Sibal said, "It is the present government that called the ISI to probe the Pathankot terrorist attack." He also pointed out former ISI chief A Durrani's statement that Modi is their "preferred choice" as prime minister of India.
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