Congress seeks JPC probe into Rafale deal

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New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) The Congress on Tuesday demanded a JPC probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal with France, alleging that the change of terms and conditions of the previous agreement negotiated by the then UPA government had caused a loss to the exchequer.

The demand for the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe was raised by party leader K.C. Venugopal in the Lok Sabha during a debate on the first batch of supplementary demands for grants for 2018-19.

Later, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge also repeated the demand, saying the Modi government had not replied to the points raised by Venugopal and had “accepted” what he said.

The Congress and some other opposition members also staged a walkout in the House.

Venugopal, who initiated the debate, said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had refused to disclose the price of the fighter jet under the new deal, citing an agreement with France, when the government had given out the price in an answer to a parliamentary question.

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“The UPA government revealed the cost under the previous defence deal in Parliament itself. In addition to this, public entity Hindustan Aeronautical Limited was bypassed for getting more than Rs 30,000 crore in offset contract,” he said.

The Congress leader said that under the deal negotiated by the earlier UPA government, Bengaluru-based HAL would have got licence to build 108 of the 126 Rafale aircraft and only 18 aircraft were to be built in France.

He said that it would have provided jobs for lakhs of youths and also technology transfer.

The Congress lawmaker said that Dassault Aviation of France sold the same 48 Rafale jets to Egypt and Qatar in 2015 for Rs 1,319.80 crore per aircraft.

“I am telling this in Parliament. You can inquire. Hence, there is a scam. We demand a JPC inquiry. You created so much noise when the Bofors (scam) happened. This is a major scam. Therefore, we demand a JPC inquiry,” he said and alleged that the government was trying to hide matters.

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BJP MP Nishikant Dubey objected and said that the Congress member was referring to a “confidential” paper and should authenticate it and place it before the House.

Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Roy also referred to the Rafale deal and said that a “full-fledged inquiry should be made by the government.”

Opposition members also slammed the government over unemployment and management of Indian economy, saying the credibility of the nationalised banking system has been severely affected.

–IANS

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