Over the last few months, country has seen a major controversy in the form of Rafale Deal, which is basically a defence deal between India and France over Rafale fighter jets. In the last few days, two questions have been majorly raised, more so by the Congress Party. The first one is the overvalued price of 36 jets and the second is the crony capitalism involved in the deal.
The Modi Government which came strong at the opposition over the row got into defensive mode when the former president of France, François Hollande in an interview said that the suggestion to keep Anil Ambani owned Reliance Defence Limited as offset partner came from the Modi Government. This gave ammunition to the opposition and now this controversy has been mainstreamed in such a manner that it can’t be ignored by the government.
Taint that can Cost High to the Government
The Modi Government known for being incorruptible has fetched first taint with the Rafale deal accusation, making the ruling party get into an extreme defence mode. After the statement from their former President, the French Government’s defence ministry came out with an explanation that both the governments have nothing to do whatsoever in deciding the offset partner. The same statement was issued by Dassault Company, the manufacturer of Rafale. Since the offset deal is commercial, the company chose Reliance Defense Limited as its partner.
Despite whatever statements two parties gave, question still remains; did the government suggest Reliance Defence as an offset partner? If the answer is yes, then when and why the recommendation? Opposition is now actively digging out whatever little error the government has made. In his visit to France in 2015, PM Modi unexpectedly announced government’s decision to buy 36 jets even though the deal was cleared only in 2016 by the Cabinet Committee on defence affairs.
Greater Transparency Needed
Rookie mistake made by the PM Modi with an unexpected announcement left even the senior officials in awe. Second bomb was dropped when the remark was made by Francois Hollande, which made it even worse for the government. Transparency is certainly needed that alone can put this case into its logical conclusion. Indian government needs to clarify the deal and explain as to how it was made, on what grounds Reliance Defence was selected as the offset partner, why the cost of Rafale sounds overvalued and so on.
Modi image tainted?
Presently, the opposition is scoring points and has been able to utilize this controversy to taint prevailing clear image of the Modi Government. In a similar way, the government is also giving it back to save itself from the allegations. But what everyone is forgetting is that the controversy of this deal between the two countries is denting the defence cooperation ties between India and France. This will cast effect in the future when countries like France may think twice before making deals with India.
If there is corruption and crony capitalism, the same needs to be pointed out but if there is nothing like that then it must end now. In the midst of politics, our defence can be jeopardized if this accusation is not countered with substantial explanation and evidence.