Rafel fight continues as a portal releases report

French investigative portal Mediapart’s report on alleged kickbacks paid by the makers of Rafale fighter jets to a middleman during the UPA regime has triggered a fresh round of political slugfest between the BJP and the Congress. Mediapart in its latest report claimed that Dassault Aviation paid nearly Rs 65 crore using fake invoices to middleman Sushen Gupta between 2007 and 2012, when the Congress-led BJP was ruling at the Centre. The investigative portal also alleged that the CBI and ED knew about the bribe charges but did not probe the matter.

The Congress-led UPA government carried out negotiations with Dassault Aviation for nearly 7 years to purchase 126 Rafale fighter jets, but could not close the deal.

When the BJP-led NDA came to power in 2014, it scrapped the UPA-era deal and signed an inter-government contract on September 23, 2016 with the French government to buy 36 fighter jets.

The BJP latched on to the latest Medipart revelation to unleash a scathing attack on the Congress. Accusing the party of corruption in defence deals, BJP leader Sambit Patra said that INC stands for “I Need Commission”.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to urge his partymen to not be scared and continue their fight against the corrupt NDA government.

According to Mediapart’s investigation, Dassault Aviation paid the kickbacks to the intermediary in Mauritius between 2007 and 2012.

The Congress-led UPA was in power between 2004 and 2014, leading the ruling BJP for the first time to launch an aggressive counter-attack on the main opposition party after confining itself mostly to dismiss its allegations of corruption in the deal.

The Modi government had inked the deal on September 23, 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.

Mediapart had reported in July that a French judge has been appointed to lead a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into suspected corruption” and favouritism in the Rs 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal with India for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

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