The government is scheduled to table the CAG report on Rafale jet fighter deal in Parliament on Tuesday, sources told PTI.
On 11 February, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) sent a new report on the controversial Rafale deal to the President and Finance Ministry.
The report, titled 'Capital Acquisitions of Air Force', contains details of acquisitions and deals, including the 'Rafale aircraft deal' as one of 12 chapters.
In an exclusive report for The Hindu last week, N Ram wrote that the Prime Minister's Office had held “parallel negotiations” with the French team in the Rafale deal. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called the report “incomplete and motivated”.
- Congress has raised objections to CAG Rajiv Mehrishi, who had served as the finance secretary when the Rafale deal was signed, investigating his own role
- Congress leader Kapil Sibal has asked for recusal of Mehrishi from CAG report
- In a press conference, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the PMO was directly involved in Rafale negotiations
PMO Conducted ‘Parallel Negotiations’ in Rafale Deal: Report
Amid the ongoing controversy over the Rafale deal, a report published in The Hindu quotes an internal Defence Ministry note and suggests that there were “parallel negotiations” conducted by the PMO with the French side.
The report further states that the MoD had objected to these negotiations which purportedly “weakened” India’s negotiating position in the Rafale deal.
The note, dated 24 November 2015, was undersigned by the then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, and Deputy Secretary SK Sharma, and was also brought to the attention of the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Defence Ministry note read: “We may advise PMO that any Officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays [parleys] with the officers of French Government.”
Read the full story on The Hindu’s Rafale story here.
PMO Directly Involved in Rafale Negotiations, PM Guilty in Scam: Rahul Gandhi
The Prime Minister's Office was directly involved in negotiations with the French on the Rafale deal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was guilty in the scam, Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged on Friday, 8 February, in a fresh attack on the government over the fighter jet agreement.
It is an open and shut case, Gandhi declared, citing a report by The Hindu, claiming the Defence Ministry raised strong objections to "parallel discussions" conducted by the PMO during the negotiations over the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale deal between India and France.
"I want to speak to every member of the armed forces of this nation... Here, it is absolutely clear that the prime minister has stolen Rs 30,000 crore of your money, bypassed a process, and given it to his friend Mr Anil Ambani," Gandhi said at a press conference.
The government, as well as Ambani, have strongly denied any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France.
Gandhi also read out from a document, purportedly from the Defence Ministry, published in the newspaper.
"Now, it is crystal clear that the ministry itself has said, and I will read it to you, 'It is therefore clear that the parallel discussions by the PMO has weakened the negotiation of the MOD and the Indian Negotiating Team. We may advise PMO that any officers who are not part of the Negotiation Team may refrain from having parallel parleys with the officer of the French government'," Gandhi said.
Questions Over Rafale Have Been Answered Thoroughly: Nirmala Sitharaman
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responded in the Lok Sabha on Friday, 8 February, to Congress’ fresh attack over Rafale deal, by stating that all questions have been answered “thoroughly and transparently.”
She said that the newspaper should have reached out to the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, if they “wanted to bring out the truth.”
Sitharaman said,“The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar replied to that MoD note that remain calm, nothing to worry, everything is going alright. Now, what do you call the NAC led by Sonia Gandhi’s interference in earlier PMO? What was that?”
Parallel Negotiation Claim ‘Overreaction’: Parrikar in Rafale Note
The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had replied to the MoD dissent note that the PMO and French President Office were then monitoring the progress of the deal, which he said, was an outcome of the summit meeting.
Parrikar called paragraph 5 – which raises questions about PMO’s “parallel negotiation” – an overreaction.
He replied to the MoD note on 11 January 2016.
France Will Back All Obligations: Former French PM
Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016, saying that “their government would fully back the obligations made by their firms in the contract,” reported ANI.
The Report is an Attempt to Malign Rafale Negotiations: Air Marshal SBP Sinha
Air Marshal SBP Sinha, who headed Rafale negotiations from the Indian side, told ANI, "It was very surprising for me to know that in the article printed today a note within MoD has been used to malign this procurement by concealing facts, the remarks of the defence minister are not there."
He further added, "Note has nothing to do with Indian team's negotiation on Rafale procurement as this note wasn't initiated by Indian negotiating team. It has been initiated by SK Sharma, who was not part of Indian negotiation team. On whose behest he initiated this note?”
Rahul's Rafale Allegation 'Yet Another Lie': BJP
The BJP on Friday, 8 February, described Rahul Gandhi's allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal as "yet another lie from his lie-manufacturing factory" and accused the Congress president of working at the behest of foreign forces for the cancellation of the fighter aircraft deal.
"The lie-manufacturing factory of Rahul Gandhi continues to operate and he has served us yet another lie. We absolutely reject his allegations," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
He demanded Gandhi should tell them as to which aircraft company officials he had met during his recent visit to Europe.
"Rahul Gandhi and the Congress are working to get the Rafale deal scrapped. They are playing in the hands of foreign forces and companies with vested interest," Javadekar alleged.
He said the Congress-led UPA government had finalised the Rafale deal in 2011 but did not go ahead with it because "it had not got any commission." There cannot be a deal in a Congress government without any commission, Javadekar alleged.
"The Supreme Court has said there is no scam in the Rafale deal. Gandhi does not accept it. Repeating a lie would not make it true," he said.
Parrikar's Role Has to be Investigated Separately: N Ram Defends Report
N Ram, reporter behind the investigative article and the former editor-in-chief of The Hindu, told ANI, “The story is complete in itself because we have not dealt with Manohar Parrikar's role in this and that needs investigation."
Reacting to Sitharaman raising doubts in his report, Ram said, “I don’t need any certificate from Nirmala Sitharaman. Now they are in big trouble&trying to cover up. My only advice to her would be, ‘You are not involved in transaction, why you take upon yourself the burden of justifying the indefensible?'
'Independent' CBI Should Raid Prime Minister's Office: Kejriwal on Rafale Report
An "independent" CBI should raid the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), seize files and make arrests in connection with the Rafale fighter jet deal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Friday.
Purported Note on Rafale Indicates Parrikar Had No Knowledge of Progress in Negotiations: Omar
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah Friday said a purported Ministry of Defence note on Rafale indicated that then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had no knowledge of the progress in negotiations for the fighter jet deal.
"The then Defence Minister @manoharparrikar was clueless about the progress of negotiations. All he could say was 'IT APPEARS that @PMOIndia & French President's office are monitoring the progress'. He had no direct knowledge of progress & passed the buck back to the PMO," Abdullah said.
"How can he claim that 'para 5 is an over-reaction' when he had no direct knowledge of the status or content of the negotiations? His act of passing the matter for the Def Sec to resolve with PMO clearly shows he had no grounds on which to base his 'over-reaction' assessment," he said in a series of tweets.
PM Modi Has Come Under Contempt of SC: MK Stalin
DMK President MK Stalin said, “PM Modi has come under Supreme Court's contempt. In its sealed envelope to SC, centre never mentioned PMO's negotiations. Never ever in independent India, a Prime Minister was caught in such serious allegations .”
This Is Proof That Modi Govt Misled Supreme Court on Rafale: N Ram
The Quint: Your story reveals how the Defence Ministry itself had raised objections to the way the Prime Minister's office was ostensibly conducting parallel conversations with the French side? What do you think this indicates - does it show that there is there some sort of illegality that happened?
N Ram: It’s highly improper, it’s misconduct. It’s not just parallel conversations or negotiations, it’s also done behind your back, without informing you. Taking diametrically opposite and contrary positions on the sovereign guarantee, on the arbitration details. Already, on pricing, three of the seven members of the Indian Negotiating Team objected to the benchmark price, the design and development costs for India-specific enhancements and virtually every other of the contentious issues. So already, you havevery strong opposition within the Defence Ministry, particularly from the civilians, the financial experts and in this case, from practically everybody going up to the then Defence Secretary. So, it’s misconduct and this is not how you conduct governance. It makes no sense why, in a situation where the manufacturing company is known to be very fragile financially, there is no sovereign guarantee. There are options - sovereign guarantee, government guarantee or a bank guarantee. This was a demand not just from the Defence Ministry, but the Law and Justice Ministry as well.
Read the full story here.
Modi Master of Corruption: Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called him "the master of corruption," saying that she supported the views of the Congress on the Rafale deal.
She described Rafale deal as "one of the biggest scam of the country.”
“I do not know how much money changed hands or what had happened, but certainly there must be something behind the curtain. Rafale deal is a big scam and I support the Congress' views on it," Banerjee told a press conference after the conclusion of the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata.
Rafale Deal Report Incomplete, Motivated: Nirmala Sitharaman
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told ANI on Friday, 8 February, that The Hindu report on the Rafale deal was “incomplete and motivated.” She also said that if a prime minister monitors the progress of any deal, it cannot be called “interference."
“Newspaper that published the 5 notings of the then Def Secy, they have not done a complete job. The nature of what they are revealing demands that they look for further information in this case (sic).”
PM Modi Should Answer Who Rafale Meant to Strengthen: Shiv Sena
The Shiv Sena on Saturday said PM Modi should answer whether the Rafale deal was meant to strengthen the Air Force or a ‘financially-troubled industrialist’.
The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana said Modi defended the deal in a “patriotic” speech in Parliament on Thursday, “But the very next day, the ‘black page’ (document) came out, which silenced those raising patriotic slogans and thumping benches in the House”.
Congress to Hold Press Conference on Rafale Deal
Congress will hold a press conference on ‘new conflict of interest’, party Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted on Sunday, 10 February.
'Why Did PMO Interfere in Rafale Deal?'
Talking about possibility of CAG report on Rafale deal being presented in the Indian Parliament, Kapil Sibal said in a press meet, “We believe that lies are being misrepresented as truth and the country is being misled.”
Sibal also questioned PMO’s interference in the deal.
Congress Questions Current CAG's Role, Demands His Recusal
“Rajiv Mehrishi, current CAG, was appointed as the Finance Secretary from 24 Oct 2014 to 30 Aug 2015, during which PM Modi visited France and announced the deal for 36 Rafale aircrafts,” Sibal said, highlighting Mehrishi’s purported involvement and asking for his recusal from the CAG report.
I will keep an eye on officers fervent to PM Modi, he added.
“The new Rafale deal was announced by PM Modi in France on 10 April 2015 and the old deal for 126 aircrafts was cancelled in June 2015,” the senior Congress leader added.
How Will CAG Investigate Against Himself, Asks Sibal
Sibal pointed out that Finance Ministry plays an important role in negotiations of the deals and Rajiv Mehrishi was the finance secretary during the period of negotiations.
“Now Rajiv Mehrishi is the CAG. Twice, we took our delegation to the CAG in September and October of 2018, to request for a proper investigation on the Rafale Scam. But, how will CAG investigate against himself,” Sibal asked on Sunday, 10 February.
Cong Submits 4 Page Memorandum to CAG on Conflict of Interest
The Congress party on Sunday, 10 February, submitted a four page memorandum to CAG on the conflict of interest to audit the 36 Rafale Aircraft Deal.
CAG Report on Rafale Likely to be Sent to President on Monday
A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the Rafale deal is expected to be sent to the President on Monday, 11 February.
The report, titled 'Capital Acquisitions In Air Force', contains details of acquisitions and deals by the Air Force. The 'Rafale aircraft deal' will be one of 12 chapters of the CAG report.
The Rafale deal pricing, however, will be in a redacted form. Sources say, it was done on the request of the MoD. Sources said that in the past too, CAG reports had redacted pricing of defence deals, The Telegraph reported.
PM Modi Facilitated Loot: Rahul Gandhi
Yet another revelation in the Rafale deal came to the fore on Monday, 11 February, after a report said that the Centre had waived crucial provisions for anti-corruption penalties just days ahead of signing the inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with France.
Reacting to the report, Rahul Gandhi said: “Every defence deal has an anti-corruption clause. The Hindu has reported that the PM removed the anti-corruption clause. It is clear that the PM facilitated loot.”
A report by The Hindu said that as a result of the high-level political intervention, the standard Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) clauses on “Penalty for use of Undue Influence, Agents/Agency Commission, and Access to Company accounts” of Dassault Aviation and MBDA France were dropped by the Indian government.
Lies of PM, His Minions Exposed: Arun Shourie on Latest Rafale Developments
Former Union Minister Arun Shourie, while speaking to The Quint on reports claiming Centre had waived anti-corruption provisions in the Rafale deal, said that the uncovered facts expose “the lies of the PM and his minions, and of the captive media that has been broadcasting them. They put to shame the media, which, out of supposed neutrality, has not been pursuing this investigation.”
“It also highlights the superficiality of the SC's judgment,” he said. “Once again, it's a warning to the SC about the dangers of deciding matters on the basis of information received in sealed covers and of deciding matters without going into the facts and circumstances in details.”
Taking a critical stand against the Modi government, Shourie said: “This government consists of bullies, who have muscles but no brains. They will keep making mistakes and such facts will keep coming out.”
National Interest Can Be Ignored for Sake of 'Chowkidar': Mayawati on Modi
BSP president Mayawati on Monday cited the newspaper report to take a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, saying honesty, national interest and national security can be compromised and ignored for the sake of the "chowkidar".
Mayawati's attack came after The Hindu report claimed the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France involved "major and unprecedented" concessions from the Indian government, with critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties and making payments through an escrow account dropped days before the signing of the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).
"Corruption & corrupt defence deal, No problem! Chowkidar is important for the BJP/RSS, not his honesty?" she asked on Twitter, referring to the prime minister as watchman, an epithet often used by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to describe Modi. People of the country have to decide as what to do with the "chowkidar and his so-called honesty", Mayawati said.
"Corruption, honesty, national interest and national security etc. Everything can be compromised and ignored for the sake of Chowkidar," she added.
According to her, the "chowkidar" was moving everywhere in the country on government expense claiming to be honest and not corrupt.
Govt to Table CAG Report on Rafale Deal in Parliament on 12 Feb
The government is scheduled to table the CAG report on Rafale jet fighter deal in Parliament on Tuesday, sources told PTI.
The CAG report will be tabled on Tuesday, a day before the end of the present Lok Sabha session. This is the last session of the 16th Lok Sabha as the general elections are due in April-May.
'Notes Being Selectively Picked up to Prove a Point': Air Marshal SBP Sinha
Air Marshal SBP Sinha, who headed Rafale deal negotiations from Indian side told news agency ANI:
"Some notes being selectively picked up to prove a point. The fact is none of them are linked to Indian negotiating team. Indian negotiating team has forwarded its final report signed by all 7 members without dissent."
CAG Sends Report on Rafeale to Finance Ministry and President
Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on 11 February, sent a new report on the controversial Rafale deal to the President and Finance Ministry.
The report, titled 'Capital Acquisitions of Air Force', does not deal with the offset contract, and puts the pricing of the aircraft in percentage, not rupee amount.
The CAG report is in two volumes, and comprises of 11 Air Force deals. The first volume is on 10 deals and the second is only on Rafale. The CAG had also redacted pricing of several other defence deals in the past on MoD's request.
'Rules Were Violated, Bent & Broken To Go Through Rafale Deal': Yashwant Sinha
Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha, while speaking to The Quint on reports claiming Centre had waived anti-corruption provisions in the Rafale deal said that the recent revelations proved that PMO was directly involved in fixing the deal in April 2015.
"It kept pursuing and directly interfered in the negotiations throughout," he said. Sinha further raised the point that this interference occurred because the PM had ulterior motive. "It is very clear that rules were violated, broken and bent to go through the deal."
When asked whether these reports will affect the government in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the former BJP leader affirmed saying these revelations will create a difference during the polls.
CPI (M) Demands High Level Probe into Rafale Deal
The CPI(M) demanded a high level investigation into the Rafale deal and alleged that the CAG report's credibility was "severely compromised" because of conflict of interest of its auditor.
Quoting newspaper reports, CPI(M) in a Politburo statement said that not only was the Prime Minister's Office conducting parallel negotiations, it also "batted" for no guarantees.