P Chidambaram questions delayed 'emergency' purchase of Rafale jets, demands JPC probe

The Congress party has been demanding a JPC probe into the Rafale fighter jet deals.

P Chidambaram questions delayed 'emergency' purchase of Rafale jets, demands JPC probe

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday questioned the ''emergency purchase'' of the Rafale fighter jets by the BJP government a day after party chief Rahul Gandhi termed the deal between India and France a saga of multi-crore "conflict of interest".

''What is this emergency purchase? Have you been in an emergency purchase with a delivery date 7 years later?'' P Chidambaram sought to know from the Centre.

Mocking the NDA government further, the Congress veteran said that despite much haste shown by the Centre, not a single Rafale fighter jet has arrived in the country. 

''People are asking what is this aircraft? Not one has arrived in this country so far,'' he added.

Chidambaram made these remarks while addressing a press briefing in the national capital.

Attacking the Narendra Modi regime on the issue, the Congress party had said on Friday that if the government has nothing to hide in the contract it should agree to a joint parliamentary committee probe.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi cited a report to allege that two days before then French President Francois Hollande signed the deal with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for delivery of 36 Rafale aircraft in 2016, a company owned by a businessman in India, who received offset contracts of 1 lakh crore in the deal, signed a contract for producing a film with Hollande's partner and actor Julie Gayet.

"Another 'subplot' of this 'Magnum Opus Film'-'Rafale Scam' has revealed newer questions of a possible 'Quid Pro Quo', he said.

"The nation now knows why Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not need a prior approval of cabinet committee of security to ratify his unilateral deal to buy 36 Rafale jets in Paris, because a Film Agreement was already being signed behind the sets of the 'Magnum Opus' called Rafale Scam," he told reporters.

Singhvi asked who was Julie Gayet, as since 2015, the French media is agog with stories of how the actor-business women used her influence as the tenant of the 'Elysee Palace' and as a partner of then French President Francois Hollande, two days before the French President was to travel to India for being the chief guest at the Republic Day function.

"On January 24, 2016, Reliance Entertainment and Julie Gayet's firm, Rouge International, got together and announced that they shall jointly produce a French film called 'Tout La-Haut' which ironically loosely translates in English to 'All the Top'.
"It is now public knowledge that the head of this group accompanied Narendra Modi to Paris, France, when the 36 Rafale aircraft agreements were signed on April 10, 2015. This 'All the Top' agreement was a cherry on the cake on the murkier deals involving the entire sage of the Rafale Scam," he alleged.

Singhvi also hit out at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, alleging that her "biggest lie" that no allotment of offset contract, was exposed by French Defence Minister, Florence Parly herself, as she met her on October 27, 2017, when the foundation of Reliance factory was laid in the afternoon in Nagpur.

Congress also reiterated demands made by its president Rahul Gandhi for a Joint Parliamentary Probe in the multi crore saga of 'conflict of interest' and 'Quid Pro Quo' called the 'Rafale Scam'. 

It may be recalled that Rahul Gandhi and his party has stepped up attack on the Modi government in connection with the Rafale deal and asked the government to reveal the real price of the deal.