Congress Meets CAG Second Time in a Month, Presses for Audit of Rafale Dealtext_fields
New Delhi: The Congress Thursday urged the CAG to carry out a forensic audit of the "Rs 60,150-crore" Rafale fighter jet deal and bring all "facts" on record to enable Parliament to fix accountability for the alleged scam in the contract.
A delegation of Congress leaders met the Comptroller and Auditor General of India Rajiv Mehrishi -- it is the second time within a month that they met the central auditor over the Rafale deal -- and presented a memorandum to him along with fresh documents.
The party had met the CAG on September 19 and thereafter the CVC on September 24 demanding a probe into the deal.
Subsequent to the submissions made before the CAG earlier, the Congress alleged that documents and revelations made at the highest level in India and France have "exposed a deep rooted sinister conspiracy and a clear cut case of loss to public exchequer".
"The Rafale scam has now emerged as India's biggest 'defence scam'. Skeletons are tumbling out of the closet everyday with repeated disclosures getting zero answers from the Defence Ministry. In fact, the only 'truth' of this government is 'subterfuge'. The stench of 'corruption' and 'cronyism' in the Rafale deal is nauseating, requiring urgent intervention," the Congress memorandum said.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the party brought to the CAG's attention additional developments and revelations that have come up since it submitted the memorandum last time.
He said the party expected the CAG to take note of important developments like the statement of former French president Francois Hollande and the dissent note by a senior Defence Ministry official responsible for jets' acquisition.
He also pointed out that Dassault CEO Eric Trapier's statement, made 17 days before the new agreement was entered into, contradicts the government's stand.
"Parliament alone has the authority then to scrutinize the CAG report and to fix accountability for 'this biggest scam of the century' i.e. PM's arbitrary decision to purchase 36 aircraft three times the price which was negotiated.
"We are also very clear that once all these facts come on record, the Congress party will insist not only demand, we will insist for a JPC to take charge of all the documents which will come along with the CAG report and then to fix accountability to those who have plundered the public money and cheated the public exchequer," he told reporters.
Sharma claimed the CAG gave the assurance that it functions as per established procedures and norms and "we do hope...that all the facts come on record for the Joint Parliamentary Committee, then, through examination, fix the accountability for this big scam."
He said the issue is bound to have global ramifications and every detail and document "must go through CAG's forensic audit before a report is submitted to the Parliament".
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party has again brought before the CAG some new facts and revelations that have come to light after it last met the auditor.
The party also alleged that in a classic case of blatant 'crony capitalism', private entity Reliance Defence was deliberately enriched by award of a Rs 30,000- crore offset contract at the cost of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.
"The above facts reflect a clear-cut case of loss to public exchequer and rampant corruption coupled with a concerted conspiracy of by-passing PSU, HAL. It also reveals illegal and undue benefit to 'crony friends' by the highest echelons of power in the Modi Government, in the unilateral purchase of 36 Rafale Jets from Dassault Aviation i.e India's biggest ever defence contract worth Rs 60,150 Crore," it said.
The party told the CAG that all the contours of conspiracy, corruption, endangering of national security and crony capitalism can only be uncovered thorough a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
"It is expected that the CAG which has a Constitutional mandate and authority to scrutinize every document, in this case including original tender, understanding reached between Dassault and HAL and the arbitrary decision of the Prime Minister without any mandate from Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will undertake a forensic audit.
"We therefore request the CAG to bring all facts on record to enable the Parliament to fix accountability for Rafale scam," the Congress memorandum said.
The opposition party had earlier taken the matter to the CAG and said the federal auditor told the party it is "already examining" the entire issue for its report to Parliament.
The government had said it does not think a JPC or a CAG audit is set up to satisfy the "ego of an ill-informed leader" who repeats lies with alarming regularity, in an apparent dig at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress leaders who were part of the delegation to CAG also included Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh, RPN Singh and Vivek Tankha.