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Escalating its attack on Narendra Modi government over the alleged scam in Rafale deal, the Congress on Wednesday, September 19, submitted some “facts and evidence” on the matter to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India and demanded a thorough probe into the controversial fighter jet contract, said a NDTV report.

Senior Congress Leader Anand Sharma said, “We submitted a detailed memorandum along with enclosures which very clearly establishes irregularities in Rafale purchase. We hope that the matter will be looked into by CAG.”

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that all evidence and facts relating to the Rafale deal have been submitted to the CAG.

The Congress said the CAG is already auditing the Rafale deal and the party has submitted further evidence for them to go through.

The Congress has alleged corruption in the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation which has resulted in a loss of over Rs. 41,000 crore to the exchequer by paying a higher price for the aircraft than what was negotiated by the UPA.

Earlier, on Tuesday, former Defence Minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony addressed press conference to accuse Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of “suppressing facts” on the Rafale deal.

Antony lambasted Sitharaman on her claim that HAL did not have the required capability to produce the jets in India. “She has tarnished the image of HAL, which is the only company that can manufacture the fighter aircraft in India. We don’t know what her intentions were in ridiculing a public sector undertaking under her own Ministry,” said Antony.

The Congress has alleged that state-run HAL was overlooked for Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group to meet the ‘offset’ or export obligation in the contract because of the businessman’s reported proximity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress also asked the government to publish “the price of the Congress-UPA’s deal of 126 aicraft and the price of Modi government’s 36 aicraft deal including the price of each aircraft.”

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, who was present at the media briefing, said the CAG and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) are bound by their constitutional duty to look at the entire deal and all its papers – whether or not somebody moves them.

“Congress Party at an appropriate time also intends to move an appropriate petition before CVC and CAG to expeditiously and quickly adhere to their constitutional duties,” Surjewala said.

The Congress has asked why the government was not setting up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the fighter jet deal.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, however, rejected the demand saying all the details on it have already been placed before Parliament. She, however, did not give any direct reply on Antony’s charge on why the NDA did not buy more aircraft if its price was cheaper.

“The UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) did not care for either the Indian Air Force or the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited). To say that we are not taking care of HAL is totally incorrect,” Sitharaman said, refuting a Congress charge that the government had given the contract to a private company over the state-run HAL.

She said the state-run entity was dropped from the Rafale deal by the UPA government itself. Sitharaman said since HAL and Dassault Aviation, the French firm that produces Rafale, could not concur on the production terms, it was dropped from the agreement by the Congress government.

“HAL and Dassault couldn’t agree on production terms. So HAL and Rafale couldn’t go together. Doesn’t that very clearly say who didn’t go together with HAL and under which government it happened,” Sitharaman said during an interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC).

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