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Congress takes Rafale fight to CAG's door, demands report on 'irregularities'

Last updated on: September 19, 2018 15:22 IST

A delegation of senior Congress leaders on Wednesday met the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the Rafale fighter jet deal and asked the auditor to prepare a report on alleged irregularities in it.

The Congress delegation handed a memorandum to the CAG and said it expects the truth to prevail after the report on the Rafale deal is made public.

 

"We have given a detailed memorandum along with enclosures on the irregularities and acts of omission and commission by the Government in the fighter jet deal. We expect the CAG will prepare a report soon and present it before Parliament," senior Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters after meeting the CAG.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala added that all evidence and facts relating to the Rafale deal have been submitted to the CAG.

"We explained to the CAG how Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was removed from the deal to benefit a private player. We hope the CAG will give its report soon. The CAG has assured us that they are already examining all aspects of the deal.

"We expect that when the report on the deal comes out in public domain, the real scam will come out and the truth shall prevail," he told reporters.

The Congress has stepped up heat on the government over the Rafale deal and is seeking to make it a major poll issue ahead of assembly elections to some key states later this year and the general elections in 2019.

Probe into Rafale deal can't be set up to satisfy ego of an 'ill-informed' Cong leader: Govt

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected the Congress demand for a probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal, saying an inquiry cannot be set up only to satisfy the ego of an "ill-informed" leader of the opposition party who "repeats lies".

He also said that former defence minister A K Antony has a lot to answer for keeping the public-sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which was to be offset partner of the French maker of Rafale jets, in the lurch despite being in office for eight years.

"I don't think JPC or CAG inquiry is set up to satisfy the ego of an ill-informed leader who repeats lies with alarming regularity," he told reporters, in an apparent attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Prasad said Antony was the defence minister when the offset rule was framed, as incumbent defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already articulated.

Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

"He was the minister who left HAL in lurch, as far as the joint operations is concerned. Mr Antony has a lot to answer," he said.

"What has struck me more is that Mr Antony, who was defence minister for eight years during which nothing could be done for modernisation and empowerment of Indian forces, (making statement on the issue)," he said.

Prasad also said that Indian Air Force badly needs planes as the old planes are causing repeated accidents. "Should the Congress at least rise to the occasion for the sake of country's safety and security," he said.

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