Following this development, chief congressional spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come forward and order a Joint Parliamentary Commission (JPC) investigation into the Rafale deal.
“The corruption in the Rafale deal has become clear now. The position of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi was justified today after the French government ordered an investigation, ”he told reporters at a press conference.
However, there was no immediate reaction from the Indian government or the BJP. According to Mediapart, the investigation into the intergovernmental agreement signed in 2016 was officially opened on June 14.
“A judicial investigation into suspicions of corruption has been opened in France into the sale for 7.8 billion euros to India in 2016 of 36 Rafale fighter jets built by Dassault,” Mediapart reported on the latest developments in the controversial agreement.
The investigation was opened by the national financial prosecutor’s office (PNF). The judicial investigation was ordered by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office of France, following new reports from Mediapart in April indicating wrongdoing alleged in the agreement as well as a complaint filed by the French NGO Sherpa specializing in financial crime.
“The very sensitive investigation into the intergovernmental agreement signed in 2016 was officially opened on June 14,” said the media. Mediapart journalist Yann Philippin, who has filed a series of reports on the deal, said a first complaint was “buried” in 2019 by a former PNF chief.
“The judicial information was finally opened following the revelations of the #RafalePapers investigation by @mediapart and a new complaint from @Asso_Sherpa. A 1st complaint was buried in 2019 by the former PNF boss, Eliane Houlette, ”he tweeted.
In April, Mediapart, citing an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency, reported that Dassault Aviation had paid around one million euros to an Indian intermediary. Dassault Aviation has dismissed the corruption allegations, saying no breaches were reported under the contract.
The government of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had signed an agreement of 59,000 crore rupees on September 23, 2016 for the purchase of 36 Rafale planes from the French aerospace major Dassault Aviation after an exercise of nearly seven years for the purchase of 126 Multirole Medium Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not bear fruit during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.
Congress accused the government of massive irregularities in the deal, alleging it was purchasing each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore against Rs 526 crore finalized by the UPA government during negotiations for the MMRCA.
Ahead of Lok Sabha’s 2019 election, Congress raised several questions about the deal and the alleged corruption, but the government dismissed all charges.