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Congress president Rahul Gandhi said PM Modi as chowkidar chor hai in Rafale deal

New Delhi. Maintaining that there was massive corruption in the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday fired a broadside at the Centre after it rejected the demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe following the Supreme Court verdict rejecting pleas for a probe into the defence deal.

Reiterating the Congress’ demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the fighter jet deal, Gandhi claimed that if it was conducted, names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and businessman Anil Ambani will come to the fore.

“The day this matter is investigated, two names will surface. Anil Ambani and Narendra Modi. I have said it earlier and I am saying it now, chowkidar chor hai (the guard is the thief),” he said in a combative presser.

The Congress chief also wondered why the CAG report “cited by the Supreme Court” on it had not yet been shared with the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. “As per the Govt’s statement in the SC, pricing details have been shared with CAG and with the Public Accounts Committee. Mr. Kharge is chairman of PAC and he says, no such report regarding pricing was submitted,” Gandhi said.

“If a report is submitted to PAC, then it must submit it to the Parliament and then put in the public domain, which has not happened,” said Kharge, the opposition leader in Lok Sabha.

Gandhi further said it was not clear how Anil Ambani’s company replaced HAL as the offset partner. “Our questions are simple. Why was Rs 526Cr aircraft bought at Rs 1600Cr? Why was contract taken away from HAL and given to Anil Ambani? HAL is experienced and owns the land,” said the Congress president.

Both government and Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group have rejected Gandhi’s allegations of any wrongdoing.

Gandhi’s reaction came hours after Union Finance Minister termed the opposition’s allegations on the Rafale deal as “fiction writing” and that it compromised national security. Jaitley said every figure cited by Gandhi in his allegations has been false. He said the government would again press for a debate on the issue in Parliament.

On Congress’ demand for a JPC probe into the deal, Jaitley said only judicial body can carry out such an investigation as there has been experience in the past of JPCs working on partisan lines. The SC verdict is conclusive and leaves no scope of any doubt on the deal, he said.

In a relief to the Modi government, the Supreme Court earlier in the day dismissed the pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets, saying there was no occasion to “really doubt the decision making process” warranting setting aside of the contract.

The apex court rejected the pleas which sought lodging of an FIR and a court-monitored probe alleging irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal, in which both the countries have entered into an inter-governmental agreement.

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