Congress seeks JPC probe into Rafale deal with France

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NEW DELHI: 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.

K.C. Venugopal, the congress party leader and the Member of Parliament from Kerala, raised the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe demand Sabha during a debate on the first batch of supplementary demands for grants for 2018-19.

The Congress and TMC MPs in Lok Sabha demanded the JPC probe terming the deal is “nothing but a scam” and the cost of the fighter jets should be revealed to the Parliament. BJP MPs opposed the demand seeking the Opposition parties to provide proof.

Venugopal said the House should know about the cost of the Rafale deal and alleged that there was “a major scam”. “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.

Venugopal added that 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.

“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.

Objecting to his demand, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey urged Deputy Speaker M Thambi Durai that Venugopal should place the evidence before the House before making any “wild allegation”. Later, Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy also said that the Rafale deal was “one of the biggest scandals of independent India.”

“The country is going to lose Rs 2,500 crore due to Rafale deal,” Roy said, while demanding a “full-fledged enquiry” into the fighter jet deal with France and the role of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group in the deal.

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

With inputs from Agencies

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