The effort of opposition parties and a section of media to portray Rafale deal as a possible scam, albeit without any evidence, continues. Earlier, The Hindu had published a half note from the Ministry of Defence in an apparent bid to raise questions on Rafale deal and the possible financial wrongdoing. This effort has been thoroughly exposed by The True Picture in our recent article A Cropped Picture to Paint a False Picture on Rafale. Now, the same newspaper has published a report titled Government waived anti-corruption clauses in Rafale deal. As in the previous instance, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has latched on to this report outrightly blaming the government for corruption.
But, just as in the case of its previous report featuring a cropped picture, The Hindu with the above report has once again presented a half picture, thereby attempting to mislead and sow seeds of doubts among general public.
Has Modi government Disregarded Standard Procurement Procedure?
On the alleged violation of Standard Procurement Procedure as claimed the by The Hindu, the Defence Procurement Procedure – 2013, approved during the UPA government, in para 71 itself makes it abundantly clear that for geostrategic reasons and matters of bilateral relations with another country, the government of the day has discretion to negotiate an agreement with another government even outside the scope of the standard procedures.
See the snapshot below.
Thus, there is no room to allege that the Modi government has committed any procedural infringement. The allegation that the “Government waived Anti-Corruption law” has no basis. As the above document shows that even within the DPP-2013, there is a clause which enables the governments of both countries to negotiate a deal based on mutually agreed provisions.
Has Modi Government Misled the Supreme Court?
The Hindu report indicates that the government may not have brought the subject of waiver of sovereign guarantee apart from other crucial points of the Rafale deal when the Supreme Court heard the case. As the report says, “It is significant that neither this nor other important information published by The Hindu on the “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Adviser seems to have found a place in the material submitted by the government to the Supreme Court of India.”
But the ‘waiver of sovereign or bank guarantee’ did come up when the Supreme Court was hearing the issue back in 2018. And the government had come up with its answer at that point of time. See the snapshots of the media report.
The Attorney General (AG) representing the government had highlighted the following points with regard to sovereign guarantee:
- AG had said that the letter of comfort provided by France was as good as a governmental guarantee.
- Even some prior deals with the US and Russia too had no sovereign guarantee.
Has Modi Government Conducted ‘Parallel Negotiations’ – Dissenter Himself Debunks It
As far as the efforts of portraying the dissent and different opinions of the officials as a possibility of scam are concerned, the same officer who had submitted the dissent note has come out to say that there was no scam in the deal.
In fact, in a newspaper interview, former Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar has praised the Modi government for the deal and also said that the news highlighting his negative comments regarding PMO and Defence Ministry working at cross purposes, is not true. The snapshots from the interview conclusively bust the earlier false narrative by The Hindu about “parallel negotiations”.
Another False Narrative
Therefore, this is yet another narrative pushed by vested interests which was used by Congress President to claim that there was a scam in the Rafale deal. As we presented the full picture, the key takeaways are as follows:
- Since the Rafale is an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) which involves no middle men or agents. So, there is no room for “Agents/Agency Commission”. Thus, the very premise on which The Hindu has built its argument becomes invalid.
- The standard Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) – which The Hindu quotes and which has been in place since UPA’s rule in 2013 – itself has a clause which permits the government of the day to conduct a deal as it deems fit at a point in time.
All the above facts indicate that there is a whole machinery at work to paint the Rafale deal as corrupt endangering national security interests. To connect the possible dots, the readers may read our earlier piece Did Congress Not Buy Rafale Because It Wanted Eurofighter, Of Course For A Reason