NEW DELHI: On Friday, the Modi government marked a big victory in the apex court of India ‘Supreme Court’ on the Rafale deal. The SC gave a clean chit to the government on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
The Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi announced,
“There is no suspicion in Rafale deal.”
The SC said that there wasn’t any doubt during the decision-making process on the multi-billion dollar Rafale deal. The bench headed by Gogoi said that the country needs fighter aircraft and cannot do without them.
Also, the apex court said it’s not the court’s duty to deal with the comparative details of the pricing. Moreover, it said that there was no substantial reason to intervene in the procurement process, pricing and offset partner of the fighter jets.
On the other hand, Modi government had faced recent defeats from Opposition in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Both MP and Chhattisgarh were under the rule of BJP for fifteen years, while Rajasthan was for five years. As per the voting trend in the three states, the BJP may lose 32 seats if the same polling pattern repeats in the Lok Sabha election.
At the time of campaign in assembly elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi made a frontal attack on BJP. Gandhi called the India-France defense deal Rs. 58,000 crore scam, accusing PM Modi of corruption.
Referring to Modi’s poll campaigns before 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi in his election speeches said,
“Chowkidaar chor hai [the guard is a thief].”
After that, Modi had then made corruption allegations against the Congress-led UPA government his poll plank making a promise that he would act as a PM but as a chowkidar (guard) ensuring corruption-free governance in his government.
Rafale Deal disgraced the NDA government as well as the personal image of PM Narendra Modi. Furthermore, Gandhi had accused him of signing the Rafale deal for benefitting businessman Anil Ambani whose Reliance Defence bagged a part of the off-set deal with the maker of Rafale fighter jet Dassault Aviation.
PM Modi and the BJP’s stand on the anti-corruption plank was being replaced by a different political narrative according to which the Modi government was not working against corruption but was itself involved in corruption.
However, the Supreme Court’s verdict has given the BJP and PM Modi a strong sense of relief and boost to counter and put a stop at the Opposition’s false allegations.
As a fact, Rafale deal’s initial negotiation with France took place during the UPA government, but the deal could not go further. When the BJP-led NDA government came into power, PM Modi facilitated the process at the highest level with the French government, and the deal was signed in 2016.
So since the time deal reached finalization stage for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets, the Congress has been calling the deal a scam. Moreover, Congress even launched a massive political campaign against the Modi government forcing it to provide multiple clarifications.
The SC declared the judgment on a batch of pleas by politicians, lawyers, and activists who sought a court-monitored probe into the deal earlier this year. These included Yashwant Sinha, Vineet Dhanda, ML Sharma, Prashant Bhushan, and Arun Shourie. The SC then asked Modi government to provide details regarding the decision-making process for Rafale deal in a sealed envelope. After scrutinizing the government’s response, the apex court reserved the decision and dismissed the filed petitions on Friday, Nov 14.