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National

September 10, 2018

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IAF Rafale deal ‘a scam of unimaginable proportion’

AHMEDABAD: Terming the Rafale fighter aircraft deal “a scam of unimaginable proportion”, senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan has alleged that the Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group got an offset deal worth Rs21,000 crore as “commission”. He compared this to the alleged kickbacks in the Bofors gun deal in the 1980s. Anil Ambani has earlier rejected the allegation.

Prashant Bhushan charged that the BJP-led government “compromised” on national security, left the Indian Air Force “high and dry”, just to accommodate Anil Ambani’s company in the deal.

“Rafale deal is a scam of unimaginable proportion. Bofors was a Rs64-crore scam, with four per cent commission paid in that. In this scam, the commissions are at least 30 per cent. The Rs21,000 crore given to Anil Ambani is just commission, nothing else,” he alleged.

The Reliance Group, in a statement quoting Anil Ambani’s letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi last month, had said, “Allegations of Reliance benefitting by thousands of crores is a figment of imagination, promoted by vested interests.”

“Simply put, no contract exists with the Government of India.”

French company Dassault, which is supplying the fighter jets, has entered into a joint venture with the Reliance Group to meet its offset obligations to create business for Indian firms, following the Rafale deal.

Prashant Bhushan asked how the IAF has “scaled down” its requirements from the 126 Rafale aircraft it wanted and questioned the “disappearance” of transfer of technology clause from the new deal.

Accusing the Centre of hiding behind a secrecy clause, he said a joint parliamentary committee inquiry into the deal as demanded by the opposition is “totally justified.”

Senior Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan alleged that to justify the changed Rafale deal, the Indian Air Force officials were being forced to speak in praise of the new deal signed by the Modi government.

The opposition parties and many activists have been questioning the change in the deal for the purchase of the Rafale fighter jets by the present government. The earlier deal by the UPA government to purchase 126 fighter planes from France’s Dassault was allegedly altered to buy only 36 fighter planes for around Rs60,000 crore.

“After the expose, the NDA government doesn’t have anything to justify the change in the deal, so now IAF officials are being pressurized to speak in favour of the new deal,” Prashant Bhushan told reporters.

Calling it a major scam, he alleged, “This is a scam of unimaginable proportions. The country has never witnessed a defence scam of such magnitude,” he said.

“The Bofors deal involved a scam of only Rs 64 crore, but the present change in original UPA deal, points to a scam of at least Rs 21,000 crore. Not only that, but far more is the seriousness of compromising the country’s security,” he said.

Questioning the prime minister’s motive, Bhushan asked, “Who gave the prime minister the permission to reduce the requirements of the IAF from 126 planes to only 36, overriding the IAF demands and the Defence Acquisition Council’s decision?”

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