New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said there will be a criminal investigation into the Rafale deal if Congress comes to power in the 2019 elections, stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being accused of wrongdoings in the deal but is running away from the questions posed to him.
Talking to reporters in the Parliament House complex, he said that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should answer the specific questions posed by him to Modi when she replies to the debate on the Rafale deal.
He said Lok Sabha on Wednesday witnessed a discussion on the deal that “PM has personally signed.”
“You witnessed that the government refused to answer fundamental questions. Arun Jaitley did not answer the fundamental questions. The Prime Minister, who is being accused in the matter, chose to run away from the House, did not put his foot in the Lok Sabha,” he said.
Gandhi said Jaitley should answer his questions instead of abusing him.
“The fundamental question here is there should be a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) probe. Supreme Court has said that Rafale inquiry is not in its jurisdiction. If we come to power in 2019, there will be criminal investigation and people responsible will be punished,” he said.
Gandhi said the youth of the country are putting questions to the prime minister.
“Who decided to raise the price of the fighter jet from Rs5.26 billion to Rs16 billion (Dh277 million to Dh844 million)? Whose decision was this? Was this the decision of the Air Force, Defence Ministry or Prime Minister? We want clear-cut answers,” he said.
Gandhi said an important question is if the Defence Ministry had objected to any element of the deal.
“Are there documents with the Defence Ministry that they opposed the deal? She should say there were no objections. If there are objections and file notings, then on what basis did the Prime Minister overrule these questions? I hope she will answer but I have my doubts she will not be able to,” he said.
The Congress chief said the Indian Air Force wanted 126 fighter planes but the government is purchasing only 36 planes. “Were national security considerations taken into consideration (while taking the decision)?”
He alleged that a private entity made Rs300 billion in the offset deal.
He said the contract to manufacture planes should have come to HAL, but the planes being procured by government are being manufactured in France.
“The industry should have come to India. Who decided to keep HAL out? This is not Narendra Modi’s money. This your money,” he said.
The Congress leader claimed that former French President Francois Hollande has said that Modi “made it clear” that the deal to purchase fighter jets will go through if the offsets contract is given to the private entity.
He said Sitharaman in her reply should state if Modi pushed the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited out of the deal to manufacture the planes.