Demanding a time-bound probe into the Rafale deal by national auditor CAG, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie on Wednesday said the deal is case of “monumental criminal misconduct" by the NDA government and the scam involving it is much bigger than the Bofors scandal.
Sinha and Shourie, during a press conference with lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, raised several questions over the Rs 58,000 crore deal for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
In strong criticism to the NDA government, the trio also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of altering the parameters of the deal single-handedly and said there was gross violation of mandatory procedures in finalising the contract.
The entire deal was a "textbook case of criminal misconduct, of misuse of public office and of enriching parties at the expense of the national interest and national security", they alleged.
The government has made an effort to conceal the facts, they added.
The trio also rejected the government's contention claiming the prices of the aircraft have gone up due to India-specific add-ons and weapons systems, citing a joint statement by India and France during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Paris in 2015.
Shourie alleged "gross misuse of office" by which the original project for the acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft had been "sabotaged".
"I can tell you, as a person who handled the matter with regards to Bofors, that Bofors was absolutely nothing compared to this (Rafale scam). There was never a sudden change (in the deal) like this in which you suddenly give up the entire project," he said.
Accusations of massive irregularities have been laid by the Congress party in the Rafale deal.
The party has also alleged that the Central government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government for the procurement of 126 Rafale jets. The deal negotiated by the UPA could not be inked.
Shourie and Sinha have served in the previous BJP-led government at the Centre.
The NDA government cited confidentiality provisions of a 2008 Indo-France pact and had refused to divulge price details of the deal as demanded by the Congress.
The government has asserted that there were no irregularities in the deal.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman through a tweet refuted the charges as “baseless".
She asserted the government had already responded to the allegations on the floor of Parliament and added a recent attempt in Parliament to malign the government through baseless charges had collapsed.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday termed allegations of misdoings in Rafale fighter deal as “unsubstantiated” and “reprocessed lies” and said these are being levelled by forces which are increasingly desperate to prove their relevance.
“There is not a grain of truth in the wild allegations repeated today nor anything substantiating in the purported facts and voluminous documents marshalled to corroborate the baseless accusations, Jaitley said in a Facebook post titled ‘The Rafale Falsehood Repeated’.