Modi Compromised National Security, Hiked Prices of Rafale Jet Deal to Favor Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence: Congress

The Congress on Thursday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had enhanced and hiked the benchmark price for for the Rafale fighter jet deal from 5.2 billion Euros to 8.2 billion Euros and discarded objections by one of his own ministries on the sovereign guarantee issue.

It said the “entire spectrum of deception” on the deal “lies at the doorstep of the Prime Minister”, The Indian Express claimed in a report.

The CPI(M), too, hit out at the government demanding a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the deal.

The Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala claimed that the negotiating team had “a serious dispute” on the benchmark price, which was referred to the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Manohar Parrikar refused to hike prices of Rafale

“Parrikar as also the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the Defence Minister and the chiefs of the three armed forces also didn’t agree and could not decide on the higher benchmark price of € 8.2 Billion. So DAC referred it to Cabinet Committee on Security (CSS) headed by the Prime Minister. PM Modi as the head of the CCS accepted the higher benchmark price without any negotiations or inquiry. Why did the Prime Minister set a higher benchmark price,” Sujrewala asked.

The Law Ministry had on December 9, 2015 “flagged the issue of “No Bank Guarantee/ Sovereign Guarantee” by the French Government and noted the concern that the contract involves huge payouts from the public exchequer without actual delivery in the form of advance payments.

The then Defence Minister Parikkar, Surjewala claimed, had in March 2016 refused to “opine of accepting the Letter of Comfort in lieu of bank-French government guarantee. The Air Acquisition Wing of the Defence Ministry, on the other hand, had put up a note in August of that year stating that “Bank Guarantees may be insisted from French side as required under our procedure and Indian side may bear the Bank Guarantee charges.”

Modi Waved Off Bank Guarantee

He said the Law Ministry reiterated its view and conveyed it again to the Defence Ministry on August 24, but the “very next day, PM Modi as head of the CCS accepted the ‘Letter of Comfort’ and waived off the condition of ‘Bank Guarantee/French Government Sovereign Guarantee’.”

“Why did PM Modi compromise national interests by waiving the Bank Guarantee/French Government’s Sovereign Guarantee’ in violation of Defence Procurement Procedure?” he asked. The Congress has alleged that all this was done only to favour one company Reliance Defence which is headed by Anil Ambani and levelled charges of crony capitalism on the BJP Central Govt.

On Wednesday, Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the Supreme Court no “sovereign guarantee” was given by the French government but it had issued a “letter of comfort” that was good enough to be “governmental guarantee”, according to a report in The Hindu.

Defence Minister Parrikar refused to accept Letter of Comfort

Sujrewala also claimed that Mr. Parrikar had refused to accept the “letter of comfort” in place of a sovereign/bank guarantee and cited an August 18, 2016 note in which the Air Acquisition wing of the Defence Ministry stated, “Bank Guarantees may be insisted from French side as required under our procedure and Indian side may bear the Bank Guarantee charges”.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the government’s own admission in the Supreme Court that there is no sovereign guarantee from the French government but only a letter of comfort which is not legally enforceable to ensure the delivery of this high-value contract was sensational.

with inputs from The Hindu & Indian Express

Change of leadership required in Goa due to Manohar Parrikar’s failing health: Union Minister Shripad Naik

Panaji: A change in leadership in Goa is a “requirement” “today or tomorrow” considering the health of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said Union Minister Shripad Naik. Parrikar has been undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment for several months now and arrived in the state on October 14 post hospitalization at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, PTI reported.

Speaking at the sidelines of a press conference to announce International Yoga Day Naik said that change in the leadership is a requirement, today or tomorrow as the CM’s health is not well.

There has been a constant chatter about a change in leadership in the state but the BJP has consistently ruled it out.

Naik is perhaps the first BJP leaders from Goa to demand a change of leadership. Parrikar, who is in an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer, is currently on bed rest at his residence in Dona Paula, Goa. According to media inputs, the CM hasn’t attended his office at Porvorim since June.

BJP allies in the state, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), have already clarified that they will support the coalition till Manohar Parrikar remains the chief minister.

The BJP has 14 legislators in the 40-member Goa Assembly and has received the support of three MLAs each of MGP and GFP, apart from three Independent legislators. It’s critical for the saffron party to have the support of MGP and GFP to survive as it needs at least 21 MLAs to remain in power in the coastal state.

Aam Aadmi Party demands President’s rule in Goa

PANAJI: The Aam Aadmi Party in Goa on Wednesday demanded the dissolution of the state assembly and imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

Addressing a press conference in the city, AAP Goa Convenor Elvis Gomes said, ”Governance does not stop. Therefore best thing is to go for President’s Rule. The government has done away with 25 per cent expenditure. This shows that they are not in a position to garner revenue. So there is the possibility of going into a debt trap. That is why we are demanding President’s Rule so that some respect will be there for administration.”

“People will be able to know who can dispense with some justice.” He alleged that state government was merely for the sake of existence and bureaucracy was not taking responsibility.

“We are demanding President’s Rule as the state has to come under some semblance of governance,” he said.

He said if the assembly was dissolved and a caretaker chief minister was appointed then it would be another worry.

“That is why we are demanding complete dissolution of the assembly and President’s Rule,” he said.

Modi Govt is trying to muzzle autonomy of CBI: UP Congress chief Raj Babbar

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar, along with hundreds of party workers, protested near the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office in Lucknow and accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to muzzle the autonomy of the CBI by divesting its chief Alok Verma in a midnight drama.

The Congress workers, along with the state chief Raj Babbar, were detained and taken on a bus from the protest site.

The police barricaded both the roads in order to restrict the protesters from reaching right outside the CBI office ahead of the Congress protest.

Around 11:30 am on Friday, hundreds of Congress workers, under the leadership of Raj Babbar, arrived at Naval Kishore Marg and started raising slogans against the Centre. They were also carrying placards to demand complete freedom to the CBI.

Speaking to India Today, UP Congress chief Raj Babbar said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he works for 18 hours a day. However, it’s very clear now he uses most of his time for unlawful activities. He is trying to muzzle the autonomy of CBI. Alok Verma has been sent on forced leave because he was going to order a probe on the irregularities in the Rafale deal.”

Responding to Babbar’s allegations, UP BJP spokesperson Dr Chandramohan said, “The Congress party is without vision and has no concrete issue to counter both central and state government. Their strategy is not going to work again because people believe in the development work carried out by us without any discrimination.”

Goa Congress begins shortlisting candidates for assembly by-polls in Shiroda and Mandrem

PANAJI: The Congress in Goa has started process of shortlisting candidates for assembly by-elections which will be held due to resignation of two MLAs of the party.

Speaking to reporters in the city on Thursday, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Chandrakant Kavlekar said process of selection of the candidates had begun and many leaders have expressed interest to contest the election.

However, party high command would take a final decision after consulting local leadership, he added.

Expressing confidence that the party candidates would win both the seats, he claimed that people of both the constituencies– Mandrem and Shiroda– would teach a ‘lesson’ to its former Congress MLAs.

The by-election will be held due to resignation of two party MLAs Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar.

While Mr Sopte represented Mandrem constituency, Mr Shirodkar was an MLA from Shiroda constituency.

They had resigned as an MLA as well as primary member of the party and joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi.

Interestingly, both the MLAs had defeated BJP candidates in 2017 assembly elections.

Source: UNI

GPCC Welcomes Statement of MGP President Deepak Dhavilkar: Says Defecting MLAs Must Bear Costs of By-Polls

Subhash Phaldesai, PCC member and ex-district President of Goa PCC while speaking to media persons on Thursday said:

“Goa Congress welcomes the statement of MGP President Deepak Dhavilikar who called for a ban of six years on elected MLAs from changing their party for no proper or adequate reason.”

“All the expenses of the elections should be recovered from the people who changed their party and they must be asked to bear all the costs of the by-election process. This will serve as deterrence to party hoppers like Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar who change parties solely for their own personal monetary benefit or reasons.”

Secondly, Phaldesai welcomed the suggestion to approach the courts for the same reason above.

MGP being the alliance partner of the present government should do a positive thing and ensure that such changes are brought about in the system.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee requests the FDA officials to check the vegetables that are supplied by the horticulture department in various parts of Goa, regarding the content of pesticides present in the vegetables and fruits. Proper and strict action should be taken by the FDA if the amount is in excess of the approved values.

Get Ramdev Baba to ‘purify’ Cong MLAs Sopte and Shirodkar who joined BJP: Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco

Senior Goa Congress leader Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco on Monday hit out at Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for inducting some Congres MLAs in the BJP whom he had earlier called “corrupt”, reported PTI.

Also Read: Rebellion in Goa BJP as Laxmikant Parsekar, Rajendra Arlekar and Dayanand Manderkar demand State President Vinay Tendulkar’s resignation, trio may join GSM?

Lourenco, in a sarcastic vein, said that Parrikar should get Yoga guru Ramdev to “purify” these MLAs and leaders.

Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar, Congress MLAs from Mandrem and Shiroda respectively, had resigned from the opposition party as well as the state Assembly and joined the BJP last week.

Also Read: About Rs 12 Crore Spent Till Date On CM Manohar Parrikar’s Treatment

Lourenco claimed that Parrikar, as Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly, had once written to the President of India alleging that Sopte and Vishwajit Rane, a former Congress MLA who is currently state health minister, were corrupt and involved in the illegal Goa mining scam.

Also Read: CM cannot walk or speak, for last six months he is in hospital, he must hand over his job to someone else: Michael Lobo

“Parrikar has inducted the same Congress leaders in his party whom he had tagged as corrupt politicians when he was in the opposition. Parrikar should call Baba Ramdev to purify all such (former) Congress leaders,” Lourenco said at a press conference at the Congress HQ in Panaji.

Source: PTI

Amit Shah, Goa BJP leaders promised me a Cabinet berth, GTDC chairmanship for joining party: Dayanand Sopte

Former Congress’ Mandrem MLA Dayanand Sopte, who joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier this week, on Sunday announced that the saffron party has promised and guaranteed him a Cabinet berth next month and until then he has been assured of Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) chairmanship, reports The Herald.

The BJP in Goa is likely to have a Cabinet rejig after Diwali and portfolios are expected to be reallocated, sources said.

Addressing around 500 supporters at a meeting in Mandrem constituency, Sopte said that BJP has assured him of getting support from former MLA Laxmikant Parsekar and the alliance partners- MGP and Goa Forward Party.

“They promised me that they would convince Parsekar to support me so that we could work together,” Sopte is reported to have told his supporters.

“I joined BJP only for development of the constituency and to ensure jobs to my people,” he said.

He said that during his meeting with BJP state leaders and Amit Shah he demanded jobs for the people, development, ministry and support from BJP workers and Parsekar.

“The Party leadership has promised me a ministry next month and till then I will be appointed as GTDC Chairman,” he said.

Former Goa CM Parsekar has already expressed his anguish over the party’s decision to induct his arch rival Sopte and has announced to work against Sopte in the coming by-election.

Meanwhile, Sopte said that despite being in the Congress he had a cordial relationship with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and BJP Ministers and MLAs.

“That is the reason that irrespective of the fact that I was in Opposition, Government gave Rs 32 crore to my constituency for developmental works in 18 months,” Sopte said.

Lashing out at the Congress, Sopte said that despite emerging as single largest party Congress failed to form Government only because they could not finalise their leader.

“After that, we got three different opportunities to form government but even after that we failed. Only because there was more than one leader,” he said.

Sopte recalled how the then Congress MLA and current BJP Minister Vishwajit Rane had asked him to quit the party along with him soon after Assembly election results in 2017. “But then, I did not wanted to betray the people, who had voted for me,” he said.

Source: Herald & Agencies

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

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