NY Times takes up ‘Fishy’ Rafale deal, says Modi’s image as incorruptible destroyed, predicts a “tough one” for Modi in 2019 polls

The article, titled “With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi, says that the deal has caused a great deal of damage to Modi’s incorruptible image.

America’s top newspaper The New York Times has called the Rafale deal “fishy” in a recently published article.Stating that the deal has finally given a chance to the main opposition party, the Congress, to land a blow on PM Modi, the newspaper said that for the first time in last four years, the opposition parties have been able to “build a damaging narrative and land a solid punch” on Modi.

“For several years, Indian politics have been dominated by Mr Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which has grown accustomed to pushing around its rivals,” said the article, published on October 6.It added, “But for the first time in a long time, the opposition, by building a damaging narrative around this arms deal, has landed a solid punch, and is hoping to keep the pressure on Mr Modi and his party ahead of next year’s general election.”

Taking note of accusations being leveled by Congress, the article went on to say, “Congress Party officials have dominated headlines and social media with their accusations that Mr. Modi inflated the price of the aircraft, estimated to cost $8.7 billion, and brought in a trusted ally on the deal so his political party could get something back in return.”

The article, titled “With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi, further says that the deal has caused a great deal of damage to Modi’s uncorruptible image. Quoting Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, the newspaper termed the deal as “fishy.”

Hailing the Rafale deal “a new spring in the step” for the Congress, the newspaper predicted that the Lok Sabha election in 2019 is going to be a tough one for Modi.

Source: National Herald

 

Kamal Haasan demands probe into Rafale deal?

Actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan has said that an investigation should be carried out to answer questions that are being raised over the Rafale deal.

Speaking to media persons on Friday, Haasan said that at a time when suspicions are being raised against the central government’s conduct, the best way out is to order an investigation that will answer all questions.

“There are a lot of allegations and suspicions [about the Rafale deal]. An investigation must be ordered. If one is innocent, there is nothing to fear,” he said.

The Modi government is facing criticism from the Opposition over alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal with French defence manufacturing giant Dassault Aviation.

The Congress has been accusing the central government of nepotism and said that it gave special preference to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence over other competitors for an offset contract with Dassault. The second criticism is about the alleged price escalation of the Rafale fighter jets from the UPA-era deal.

The chief of the Makkal Needhi Mayam also attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party for the rise in fuel prices. Haasan said the continuous rise in fuel prices is resulting in the hike in prices of other commodities too.

“The central government is more responsible for this [than the state government]. When the BJP was in the Opposition, the party had protested against hike in fuel prices. Why is not doing anything now?” he asked.

Source: India Today

French President Emmanuel Macron Didn’t Contradict Hollande’s Claim On Rafale Deal: Congress

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Jaipal Reddy Thursday alleged French President Emmanuel Macron did not contradict Francois Hollande’s claim on Rafale deal which was tantamount to the confirmation of his predecessor’s claim.

Noting that the “Rafale scam has begin to stink and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has begin to sink”, Mr Reddy said India has had a very good relationship with France and “when a former French president says something, this country needs to sit up and take notice”.

Mr Reddy claimed the prime minister is getting caught or sandwiched between international revelations and internal disclosures.

He alleged Anil Ambani’s company was taken as an offset partner because of the pressure from Government of India and it was so intense that the French authorities were left with no choice.

“It is for the first time that the present French president Macron while answering a specific question avoided the question. He simply said I was not incharge at that time. In other words, he did not contradict the version of former French president Hollande,” he claimed.

“The point we would like to highlight is this consistent non-contradiction by the current French authorities which is absolutely tantamount to confirmation on the facts mentioned by the former president,” he claimed.

“The non-contraction by the current president of France is equivalent to an international revelation,” he added.

Mr Reddy said PM Modi owed an explanation to the nation about the statement made by the former president of France on Mr Ambani’s company.

Source: PTI

Shatrughan Sinha Appeals To PM Narendra Modi On Rafale Deal: “Sir Ji, Break Your Silence”

NEW DELHI: For the second time in less than a week, BJP parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha has asked the government to clear the air on the multi-million dollar Rafale fighter jet deal, which has been caught in a political slugfest. Today, in a tweet, Mr Sinha asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence and contradict former French president Francois Hollande, who had dropped a bombshell last week on the deal for the 36 Rafale jets.

“Sir ji! Please break your silence and contradict former French President Hollande (since both of you were present in meeting)….otherwise people will think he is speaking the truth,” Shatrughan Sinha, who has been consistently critical of his party’s government, tweeted.

Last week, a French publication had quoted Mr Hollande as saying that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner for the Rs. 58,000 crore Rafale deal.

Mr Hollande’s remarks have been denied by both the French government and Dassault, the maker of the Rafale jets.

The opposition has been alleging that PM Modi sealed the deal without any transparency and how it benefitted Anil Ambani. The Anil Ambani-led group is manufacturing aerospace components as part of the offset component of the Rafale deal. The clause requires Rafale manufacturer Dassault to ensure that business worth around Rs. 30,000 crores is generated for the Indian defence system. Reliance Defence is not making components for the Rafales ordered by India but is building assemblies for Dassault business jets.

On Saturday, Mr Sinha, 72, had asked the government to come clean on the fighter jet deal.

“The statement has come from a person who was not only a former France president but the one under whom the (Rafale) deal was sealed. Some questions have arisen from it, which need to be answered,” Mr Sinha, the lawmaker from Bihar’s Patna Sahib seat, had said in the presence of Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh.

“People are questioning why an experienced company like HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) was set aside and a new company (Reliance Defence) got the opportunity (for offset contract under the deal),” the actor-turned-politician had added.

The deal to buy Rafale fighters was signed by the NDA government with France in 2016 after the previous Congress government’s negotiations were scrapped. The Congress-led UPA’s plan was to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France’s Dassault Aviation, with 108 others being assembled in India by the HAL in Bengaluru. But according to the new deal, India would buy 36 ready-to-fly Rafale jets.

Mr Sinha’s comments were criticized by fellow party parliamentarian RK Sinha on Monday, who accused him of siding with opposition leaders like Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav.

“You should first decide where you stand. With Modi or against Modi. The people of the country will settle the account accordingly,” RK Sinha had said on his Facebook page.

Mr Sinha, called Shotgun for his acerbic comments that consistently attack his own party, has had an uneasy relationship with the BJP for a few years and often cribs that the party, under PM Modi and Amit Shah, had relegated him to the spectator seats in Bihar.

Source: NDTV

Rafale deal: NCP says Pawar hasn’t given any clean chit to Modi, demands JPC probe

Mumbai, Sep 27: The NCP said Thursday that its chief Sharad Pawar has not given any clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale issue, after the opposition leader’s remarks that “people have no doubts” over the prime minister’s intentions in the deal.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik also reiterated the party’s demands that the central government disclose the price of the fighter jets and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe the matter.

In an interview to a Marathi news channel, Pawar had said that he didn’t think that people have doubts about Modi’s intentions in the Rafale deal.

Pawar, a former Defence Minister, had also said that the Opposition’s demand to share technical details relating to the fighter jets “made no sense”. He, however, said there was no harm for the government to disclose prices of the aircraft.

Malik said Thursday that the media reports over Pawar’s statement are “confusing and misleading”.

“He (Pawar) has not made any statement defending Modi nor has he given any clean chit (in the Rafale deal matter),” the NCP leader said.

Malik said what Pawar meant was that people initially didn’t have doubts about the prime minister.

“What Pawar saheb said was that the way the matter is being hushed up (by the government) and attention of people from the issue is being diverted, the doubt is deepening,” Malik said.

In his interview, Pawar had also said that the way Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the government’s side led to confusion in the minds of people.

Quoting Pawar, Malik said the government should share information about escalation of the fighter jets price.

“The way the BJP had insisted on forming a JPC in the Bofors deal in the 1980s, it should now allow formation of such a committee in connection with the Rafale issue too,” Malik demanded.

His remarks came even as BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Sharad Pawar’s comments and asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to believe his own ally who has put “national interests above party politics”.

“I thank Sharad Pawar, a former Defence Minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth. Dear Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature,” Shah tweeted.

He tagged the Congress president in his tweet which also attached a news story on Pawar’s comments .

Meanwhile, Malik said NCP workers will observe a “maun vrat” (vow of silence) for three hours on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2.

The Congress has launched an offensive against the BJP government over the Rafale deal with France, alleging corruption and violation of rules.

The opposition party has accused the government of causing loss to the public exchequer and endangering national security by bypassing state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in favour of some businessman “friends” for awarding the offset contract.

The government as denied the charges.

Source: PTI

AAP leader Sanjay Singh sends legal notice to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over Rafale deal

Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh said Tuesday he had sent a legal notice to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal.

In the notice, the AAP leader demanded that the Rafale deal be scrapped and Dassault Reliance Aerospace be barred from handling or manufacturing Rafale fighter jets. He also sought a probe by a Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team (SIT).

“My client (Singh) is constrained to issue this legal notice in the subject matter (Rafale Deal) due to your covert actions and deeds with regard to the pricing and induction of strategic partner of a company with zero credentials much to the detriment to the security of the nation,” the notice, sent to Sitharaman by Singh’s lawyers, read.

He threatened to approach the court if the defence minister failed to heed to his demands in the next three days. A legal notice is a precursor to a case being filed in a court.

Commenting on the issue, Singh said, “The Rafale deal involves a ‘mahaghotala’ (mega scam) of Rs 36,000 crore. When I raised the issue in the Parliament, along with other UPA MPs, Union Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre gave contradictory replies.”

“Our allegations have been proved by French former president (Francois) Hollande’s statement. I also asked the government why the 78-year-old HAL was denied manufacturing of the planes, while a 12-day-old Reliance company was given (the contract). No reply has been given by the government,” Singh told reporters.

The Rafale controversy took a new turn last week after Hollande, who was the French president when the Rs 58,000-crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” on the selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government had proposed the name of Reliance as the offset partner for the aerospace giant.

Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.

Source/Credits: PTI

Rahul Gandhi claims more facts on Rafale deal will be revealed soon

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said more facts on the Rafale fighter deal and the Vijay Mallya row will be out soon as he used his home turf Tuesday to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is the beginning, he told reporters on the last day of the two-day trip to his Amethi Lok Sabha constituency.

He said there will be more on the Rafale deal, and on the people who were involved with the fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

The truth will be before you and you can judge, he said.

Earlier, the Congress chief took part in a meeting of the district vigilance and monitoring committee.

He said the deal for 36 French fighter aircraft signed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had harmed the interests of the youth, reminding them that a unit of the public sector HAL existed in Amethi as well.

The Congress has been attacking the Modi government over an offset agreement signed by Rafale manufacturer Dassault with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group.

The party has claimed that the deal would have gone to HAL under the earlier negotiations being carried out by its own government.

Reliance has rejected the charge that the current government was involved in any way in its commercial deal with the French company.

Source/Credits: PTI

Even Before Bhushan, Sinha and Shourie Could Begin Their PC, Media Houses and Editors Discreetly ‘Told’ to Prominently Incorporate Govt’s Views on Rafale Scam

Even before former cabinet ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, along with Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan could begin their Press Conference (PC) at the Delhi Press Club on Wednesday, regarding the Rafale Jet Fighter deal, senior I&B and PMO officials were furiously working their phones.

IndiaScoops.com has learnt that government officials and BJP spokespersons including a PR agency phoned several ‘friendly’ editors of newspapers and news TV channels requesting them to either boycott the PC or relegate it’s coverage to the inner pages and non-peak time TV telecast.

The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group PR team was also on its toes, trying to find out which correspondents were attending the event.

IndiaScoops.com  spoke to five senior editors – three from national dailies and two from mainline news channels who admitted off the record that they got ‘how are you’ calls from the I&B Ministry and the PMO inquiring if they were covering the PC called by the trio.

Other editors from pro-BJP outlets refused to speak to IndiaScoops.com, or simply banged down the phone when queried on the subject, but their impulsive curtness was an indication of their indignation.

Two editors told IndiaScoops.com that they were asked as to which reporter or correspondent was covering the event, while others were indirectly advised and reminded to prominently feature the government view in their reportage of the PC.

According to a report in the Indian Express at a press meet, Shourie, Sinha and Bhushan said public sector unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which was part of the original negotiations, was pushed out and a newly-minted company, Reliance Defence Ltd, which had zero experience in defence manufacturing bagged an offset contract. They said such an agreement between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation, which makes Rafale jets, should have come after governmental approval.

Sinha said Bofors “pales into insignificance” when compared to this “scam”. They said statements of then foreign secretary S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar suggest that none of them were aware of the new deal to buy 36 jets, against 126 aircraft as per a Request for Proposal issued in 2007, for which Dassault had been selected as it was the lowest bidder, reports the Indian Express.

“Nobody in the Air Force or the defence ministry was aware” of the reduction, Bhushan told media persons at the PC.

They also said there were no additional add-ons as per Indian specifications, as claimed by the government, compared to the original RFP. They quoted the joint statement by India and France on April 10, 2015, which mentioned that the 36 jets to be delivered by Dassault “and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by the Indian Air Force”.

Calling it an “enormous scandal which jeopardizes national security”, Shourie asked the government to make details of the deal public, reports Indian Express.

Regarding Dassault’s deal with Reliance Defence, he asked if it could have happened “without a nudge and a wink” from the government. He highlighted that offset guidelines of the government issued on April 1, 2016, mention that “all offset proposals will be processed by the Acquisition Manager and approved by Raksha Mantri, regardless of their value”.

A joint statement issued by the Bhushan, Sinha and Shourie said, “Could an experienced manufacturer like Dassault have picked a company that had no experience whatsoever of manufacturing aircraft…without the approval from the government and particularly the PM?”

The statement said a “private party which has had absolutely no experience in manufacturing aerospace and defence equipment has been handed an enormous financial benefit.” They demanded an independent audit by Comptroller and Auditor General.

The government machiney spun into action immediately after the PC was over. A statement was ready and emailed to most media persons. Correspondents from wire services were also sent the government’s version to counter the allegations made by the trio.

A few hours after the press meet, Arun Jaitley wrote in a blog post, “There is not a grain of truth in the wild allegations repeated today nor anything substantiating in the purported facts and voluminous documents marshaled to corroborate the baseless accusations,” he claimed

Jaitley added that the allegations constitute nothing but “reprocessed lies by forces increasingly desperate to prove their relevance”. He said the government had already responded effectively to every distortion and misinformation on the issue.” reported the Indian Express.

with inputs from Indian Express and Agencies

Rafale Fighter Jet contract given by Narendra Modi to a ‘businessman friend’ who has not even manufactured a bicycle: Raj Babbar

Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president and Rajya Sabha MP, Raj Babbar, hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, accusing him of benefiting a private businessman who happens to be his friend, who has no knowledge of fighter jets and has not even manufactured a bicycle, reports India Today.

Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Babbar said “How can a company which has no experience of even making a bicycle get Rafale contract? This clearly shows PM Modi’s nexus with businessmen and the ground-breaking ceremony was conducted in Lucknow on Sunday just to hide his incompetence. ‘Dramebaazi‘ is being done by him everywhere.”

Hailing Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for attacking PM Modi during his speech during the no-confidence motion, Babbar said “Rahul has exposed in the Parliament how PM is benefiting few businessmen in the country. He also exposed the discrepancies in Rafale deal but Modi had no concrete reply.”

Babbar also replied to Modi’s comment on relations with industrialists. The PM, in a gathering at Lucknow, said that in the previous government businessmen used to bow down in front of politicians back door.

Hitting out at Rahul Gandhi, PM Modi on Sunday in Lucknow had said that there is no shame in standing with businessmen if intentions are clear.

Without taking Gandhi’s name, PM said that in the previous regimes businessmen used to bow down in front of politicians in backdoor meetings but his govt has ensured full transparency.

“We want to tell the PM that Rahul Gandhi has no picture with any businessmen because he doesn’t meet them. You promised employment to 2 crore people but have now said that only 2 lakh youths will be given jobs, why such hypocrisy is being done ?” asked Babbar.

“Prime Minister keeps on saying that he is a “bhaagidaar” but is not issuing any clarification on the Rafale deal. People made him a “chaukidaar” but he has become a “bhaagidaar” in favouring industrialists and ignoring the plight of farmers who are facing the worst crisis under BJP rule”, said Babbar.

Also hitting at the callousness of the government with regards to farmer deaths, he said “Farmers are committing suicide in UP every day but both PM and UP CM aren’t bothered. At least 70 people have lost their lives in the rain-related incidents across UP but there was not even a single word of condolence from these leaders.”

He also attacked the UP government for police brutality in Allahabad where female students were lathi-charged by the cops for trying to register their complaints to BJP chief Amit Shah during his visit.

Source: India Today