Illustration by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint
Text Size:
  • 328
    Shares

The opposition campaign on Rafale has many limitations – no V.P. Singh, no smoking gun, no story, no slogan.

Narendra Modi’s harshest critics don’t yet say that Rafale has become his Bofors. But they believe they are on their way, that it has the potential to be the silver bullet, the Brahmastra to bring down one who looked unbeatable till a few months ago. Just a couple of things, they say, are still missing.

First, not enough people in the “countryside” know about Rafale—a recent India Today-Axis My India poll showed that in Uttar Pradesh only 21 per cent know what Rafale is. For this, obviously, we journalists are to blame.

A picture of Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of ThePrintSecond, that there is no leader with V.P. Singh’s moral authority to take the message to voters convincingly. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi are particularly unsuited, as the shadow of Bofors and many other scams hangs over them.

The opposition, especially Rahul Gandhi has decided to make Rafale the central pylon of its 2019 campaign. With this, it will hang the charge of larger corruption and cronyism. If Modi can be in a crony relationship with a controversial businessman with so many companies in deep distress, can you ever expect him to say no to the more successful, and richer ones? To circle back to the old “suit-boot ki sarkar” formulation, they need Rafale at the heart of the compass.


Also read: HAL doesn’t fly because Sukhois aren’t Rafales


The opposition rues that it does not have the media, no equivalent of Ramnath Goenka’s The Indian Express of the Bofors years to build public opinion, to wave it in Parliament. All it has is two individuals with impeccable personal reputations, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan.

Now, Rahul isn’t the horse for this Ashwamedha, and nobody from inside Modi’s BJP has yet rebelled. Check out your political history. It was the rebellion of trusted stalwarts Jagjivan Ram against Indira Gandhi and V.P. Singh against Rajiv that changed the equation in 1977 and 1988-89, respectively.

To expect another V.P. Singh to rise from some place is unrealistic. One, because V.P. Singh had the double sheen of being personally incorruptible, and of sacrifice, having given up a top cabinet position. Second, while he was no orator in the class of Narendra Modi or Vajpayee, he turned out to be a wizard at translating a complex defence deal into a metaphor the heartland voter would understand, even 30 years ago.

He resigned from the cabinet in 1987, just as Rajiv’s decline began, resigned his Parliament seat and decided to contest the bypoll from Allahabad. There was a special oomph about the constituency because Amitabh Bachchan had just vacated it under a Bofors-related payoffs cloud. The setting was perfect, but his friends and enemies were both dead sure he wouldn’t be able to make Bofors an issue. How will the poor villagers relate to something so esoteric?


Also Read: Rafale deal is Bofors many times over, what it lacks is a V.P. Singh


Singh cracked it in style. He campaigned—in peak summer—on the back of a motorbike, a gamcha around his neck, much like activist-politician Yogendra Yadav does today, and asked people at villages en route a simple question. Do you realise that Rajiv Gandhi has burgled your homes?

Then he would pull out a matchbox from his kurta pocket and hold it up. See, this is a matchbox. When you buy one to light your bidi or hukka or the kitchen chulha for “char annas” (25 paise), about one-fourth goes to the government as tax. With this, the sarkar builds your schools, hospitals, roads, canals and buys guns for your army. This is your money. If somebody steals some of it, and that too while buying guns for the army, isn’t it like your house being burgled?

Bofors was more about Singh’s story-telling than facts in the end. Rajiv Gandhi says he has a certificate from Bofors that he’s been given no commission, he said. And then asked, isn’t it like a lunatic who flourishes a certificate from a mental asylum saying he’s sane and asks you how can you be sane if you don’t have one?

Or, to convince people that only Rajiv could have taken this Bofors commission, he would tell this story: In a circus, a lion, a horse, a bull and a cat lived close by. One night, somebody opened the cages. The next morning the owner found the carcasses of the horse and the bull. You think anyone had doubts who had eaten them? The lion or the cat? If such big money has been eaten here, will some petty cat eat it? Only a lion-sized thief, Rajiv. And finally, the killer blow at Rajiv’s smiling pictures in Congress hoardings: I don’t know what he’s laughing about, “Apni chaal par, hamaare haal par, ya Switzerland ke maal par (on his deviousness, our plight, or the wealth stashed in Switzerland). I can’t promise to bring you canals or tube-wells, he’d say, but I will surely fix the plumbing from where your wealth is leaking.

Singh’s genius is never to be doubted. But his pitch also worked because he had a good case, and the Congress had a product in steep decline, Bofors or no Bofors.

The opposition doesn’t have a V.P. Singh today. But is Rafale a story anywhere near as strong as Bofors yet?

There is a vital difference between Bofors and Rafale. Unlike Bofors, on Rafale, all sides agree that it was the best aircraft to buy. Because the Congress had selected it. The charge, on the contrary, is that the Modi government is buying just 36 instead of 126. On Bofors, V.P. Singh could say with a straight face that when troops fired the first Bofors gun, it fired backwards, killing many of their own. Nobody can say this about Rafale.

The second difference, as T.N. Ninan said in his column, there is still no smoking gun like Bofors. That Hollande statement is a far cry from the Swedish National Audit Bureau finding commissions paid to three dodgy accounts in Switzerland with Indian links. The only plausible charge right now is cronyism. Why give the benefit of offsets to a corporate buddy with no experience of defence production? However, while cronyism is awful, is it bad enough to convince that critical mass of Modi voters to turn against him now?

That is the limitation of the Rafale campaign. V.P. Singh was brilliant. But he had a great slogan too: “V.P. Singh ka ek sawaal, paisa khaya kaun dalal” (V.P. Singh has one question: Money has been swallowed, who is the broker?). It worked because you believed that money had indeed been ‘eaten’. The opposition is very far from that on Rafale.


Also read: There’s a humongous scam in the Rafale deal. It is called stupidity


And finally, the complaint with the media. Rajiv Gandhi was the first powerful prime minister in whose destruction the media, much smaller then, played a central role. It is easy to say now that all journalists are compromised or afraid of Modi. So, what can you expect?

But you need to have the humility to concede that the media, today, doesn’t have a story like Bofors. Second, Modi’s graph may be in decline but he isn’t as unpopular as Rajiv had become by 1988, after many missteps, so charges don’t stick yet. Third, there is no rebellion in the BJP. Yashwant Sinha, Kirti Azad and Shatrughan Sinha aren’t V.P. Singh. And the last, that journalists are chastened by Bofors, where three decades have passed without a kroner being recovered or anybody found guilty. The bar of scepticism on defence scandals is now set higher.

Get the PrintEssential to make sense of the day's key developments.


  • 328
    Shares
17 Comments Share Your Views

17 COMMENTS

  1. It seems true that some thing is rotten in Rafel deal but to the contrary it cannot be presumed that Modi got some perks .This logic have some relevance that Mr Ambani got some part of contract without being expert in manufacture of defence products .On the same lines that Mr Rhul Gandhi and his family including Vadra has not good reputation regarding corruption on high places .Mr Modi family can be seen as how they are .If Modi is corrupt then his family ca not live like they are..It is very easy in Indian politics that a simple MLA become millioner in one term .But it can not be true in Modi’s case .

  2. Shekhar, just yesterday THE WIRE has given the complete text of the case filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shoorie and Prashant Bhushan in the SC specifically against prime minister Mr Modi and Anil Ambani. It’s a huge bit of verbiage, but I am copying three independent quotes from it (in one para each, below):

    “Then Defence Minster, Manohar Parrikar is on record, on 13th of April, 2015, saying that the total cost under the original deal for 126 aircrafts would have been 90,000 crores which was inclusive of all ‘india specific enhancements’ and the weapons/add ons that were included in the original RFP…

    “In fact, on 18th of November, 2016, in response to a question asked in the Lok Sabha on the acquisition of fighter aircrafts, the MoS, Defence stated that, “Inter-Governmental Agreement with the Government of French Republic has been signed on 23.09.2016 for purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft along with requisite equipments, services and weapons. Cost of each Rafale aircraft is approximately Rs. 670 crore and all the aircraft will be delivered by April 2022.” (Annexure 44)….

    “The scam was however revealed when the actual price of 36 aircrafts was revealed in a Press Release by Dassault and Reliance (Annexure 33) and Financial Press Release statement of Dassault for 2016 (Annexure 45).Both the documents show the total price of the deal to be about Rs. 60,000 crores (about 8.139 Billion Euros) for 36 aircrafts. This is the scam, for it works out to Rs. 1,660 crores per plane. This is more than double the price of the aircraft under the earlier 126 MMRCA deal. And almost Rs. One Thousand Crores more than the …”

    This is clearly a very tight case against Mr Modi. For all his good intentions for our country, I am sure our prime minister is spending sleepless nights these days.

    Now I quote two little pieces from your own today’s article in THE PRINT on this subject:

    “The opposition campaign on Rafale has many limitations – no V.P. Singh, no smoking gun, no story, no slogan.”

    “First, not enough people in the “countryside” know about Rafale—a recent India Today-Axis My India poll showed that in Uttar Pradesh only 21 per cent know what Rafale is. For this, obviously, we journalists are to blame…”

    About your very legitimate lament in the same article that we don’t have a V.P. Singh among us now, a sentiment that was also voiced by Yogendra Yadav two days ago in an article in THE PRINT, I would beg you to let me quote the last part of MY OWN comment on the same Yogendra Yadav article. Please, please, don’t call it narcissism on my part, I am quoting it because it is really relevant to the discussion:

    “If Modi government refuses to answer these questions EVEN TO A JPC, then all opposition parties all over India should flood all letterpress printers with orders to print 100 crore posters and pamphlets with a simple question (in Hindi, and suitably translated in all regional languages):

    FRANCE KI COMPANY KO 30,000 CRORE EXTRA KYON DIYA??? MODI JI JAWAB DIJIYE.

    Let these pamphlets rain from helicopters all over the country. You won’t require a V.P. Singh to make people understand.”

    Actually in the above. 30,000 should be changed to 36,000. (1000 each for 36 planes). So we don’t really need a V.P. Singh or any specific person to put the point across to one and all. Such thin, small leaflets also cost hardly anything. My guess will be not more than 20-30 paise per leaflet.

    The opposition leaders will no doubt say similar words in all their campaigns. That may “sound propaganda” to the listener. But when we read something written on a small piece of paper, quietly pausing on each word for split-seconds, it is as if that piece of paper is “speaking” to us in our “private moment”. That has a very different and sincere effect.

    • Original deal has 3.9% inflation clause in their bid in 2007, if you count that what will be the price if France deliver us in 2019-20?
      Original deal has 18 jet in flyaway condition and rest will be manufactured by HAL, now if you know HAL is manufacturing TEJAS and is delayed by so many years do your want this to happen with Rafale? You can verify this with HAL..
      for your information in the original deal HAL was not offset partner they are joint manufacturer with the help of French company.
      Even in the original deal to be offset partner there were competition between Reliance Industries (Mukesh Ambani) and Snajay Bhandari’s company can you please get the details and explain that fact to your viewers.
      Anil Ambani is not manufacturing any Rafale here, his comments any his company is manufacturing some other parts, there are so many other offset partner like his company…

  3. Shear Gupta, a notorious anti-patriot, now begins to lament about the absence of any proof to nail NaMo & appears to be in a pitiable condition. We patriotic people should liberally contribute a lot of Burnol ointment for him to pacify his burning stomach !

  4. I agree. There are several reasons. The first and the most basic, as Shekhar Gupta has pointed out, there is no evidence of any quid pro quo – payment or gratification. Secondly, if the Rafale files are made public, it is the Congress that will have lot to answer. The most vital question – Dassault was declared L-1 bidder in Jan 2012. In two long years, when it was still in power, the Congress government did nothing to finalize and sign the deal. Why? Thirdly, the price per plane reportedly paid by Egypt and Quatar matches with the price per plane paid by India. So, where is the scam? Fourthly, supposing that price paid is higher, it is better to have these planes at higher price rather than the stalemate of indecisive, protracted delays that resulted in no action. No wonder, the Air Force is very happy with the deal. Lastly, about Reliance contracts, the details are not yet out. We will not know how the export orders worth ₹.30,000 crore will be apportioned. Any criticism in this regard is premature. Even if , Anil Ambani gets orders, it will be not for manufacture of planes. This is a big misinformation . The order will be for supply of spares and components.

  5. Majority media house with help of lutiyent journalists have already tried to make #Rafael issue like #BofoarsScam.
    The difference is that now due to social media , news & any story becomes 360 degree news.
    One can mislead people for few hours or few days but can’t continue it for longer period as facts comes outs from other side very fast and also reach to masses with help of social media like whatsapp, youtube & facebook.

    So, people easily understand that what Rahul or Congress or few Lutiyent Journalists speak about Rafael are nothing but most are false & election propaganda. People knew that it is government to government deal. 36 number of planes which are minimum requirements to satisfy urgent needs of air force and other can be buy with new tender. It is in interest of nation to buy minimum with ready to fly position.
    All 36 planes are going to come in ready to fly condition. No plane is going to manufactured in India. 50% offset investment is actually good for India to generate job employment & boost local industry. Rafael has more than 70 business partners for this 50% offset. So, blaming only one doesn’t make sense.
    And then who are blaming? Rahul Gandhi who himself in on bail in National Herald corruption case. 50% of top congress leaders are facing charging of corruption. So who will take them seriously? When P Chidaburam or Kapil Sibal or Singvi speaks about Rafael who will believe it?
    Now do you think that leaders like Mamta or Mayavati or Akhilesh or Sarad Pawar or TRS or Naidu or Left , may have their loyal followers but do they have image of Honest Politician? So when they speak about corruption no one listen them. Its just media which highlight it for few days but has not ground effect.

    Now people are not fool. Can easily understand difference between corruption & good intention.
    So Rafael is not going to big issue in 2019. It will harm more to Congress than BJP.

  6. Dear Shekhar, I once again watched your video in which you rightly point out that no quid-pro-quo has yet been established in the case of the Rafale deal, as it was clearly established in the case of Bofors — money being deposited in accounts linked to Indians etc. My humble submission is that, “corruption” need not always involve TANGIBLE benefit.

    In the context of the following article in THE PRINT by Arun Jaitley, I had offered similar arguments.

    Hollande’s truth on Rafale can’t have two versions, says Arun Jaitley

    ARUN JAITLEY 23 September, 2018

    One reader by the name, Pramod Patil had raised the same point on no quid pro quo exchange having been established in favor of Mr Modi. In the beginning of my response I had cited those lines of Mr Pramod Patil.

    Kindly have a look at the following comment which I has offered on 23 September. I am quoting it exactly:

    ““..Corruption can only be established if there is an evidence of quid-pro-quo between Anil Ambani and Narendra Modi..”

    “Quid pro quo need not always be of TANGIBLE nature. A favor can also be done strictly for EGO SATISFACTION. If that is what gives a person a feeling of fulfillment, then that is a GRATIFICATION OBTAINED by virtue of one’s position. That, in common parlance is “corruption”. If I was the medium through which you gained that sense of happiness or satisfaction or fulfilment, then I GAVE YOU SOMETHING which you couldn’t have gotten by yourself. You were clean in your aloofness, I came and CORRUPTED you by making you misuse your power or influence.”

    In short, if “I am misusing my official position to give another person some benefit, then mine is an act of corruption even if I didn’t get any “measurable benefit” in return. My “ego satisfaction” was my benefit!”

  7. Mr Sanjiv Bhatla You have add weapons which are fitted and also latest India specific enhancements and not what was suggested in 2007. It is like you are paying for latest Merecedes Benz top end car and not 2007 model. Web sites which are against Modi will publish what will suit them and web sites for Modi will publish what will suit them. You have to be intelligent enough to under stand the actual truth. Even defence experts are heavily polarised and talk only what it suits the party they support. There is no independent analysts now to really give the truth. Ultimately truth is the biggest causality.

    • Mr Hariharan, that is precisely the point: the present government should say, some words to this effect, “look, the UPA government settled for XYZ, and we have bargained for ABC, which is a better configuration, therefore our price is more by amount of 1000 crore.” Simple! Okay, even if such explicit details cannot be disclosed to all, fine, but PLEASE AT LEAST DISCLOSE THE DETAILS TO A JPC — a Joint Parliamentary Committee, which will involve very senior and responsible people! What’s wrong with that request?

      The problem is, the Modi government wants us, the common citizens, to AUTOMATICALLY BELIEVE that they have bargained for a Mercedes Benz, and the NDA government had bargained for A TRACTOR!!!

      Isn’t this a bit too much, Mr Hariharan?

  8. It is not the question of election. The tax payers are not bothered about Rahul or opposition parties. So what if we don’t have leaders like VP Singh, we the people should stand with Arun shourie, Yashwant Sinha, Prashant Bhushan and others who have raised some valid questions and also lodged a complaint with CBI. Tax payers have right to know at what price the aircrafts are purchased. If it is cheaper than what was negotiated by previous government, let them disclose price. BJP, unlike Congress is not a fool to leave money trail. We should know how many “Goose Petian” (bribe box) BJP received either in India or elsewhere. PS: please note every time when Amit Shah say Guspetiyan (infiltratord), it sounds like what I have said in above lines. At present business houses have entered media to safe guard their own business, they are scared to investigate these issues.

  9. hekhar Gupta’s trip down sordid memory lane is a red herring. Question to be asked is what was why UPA govt could not finalise deal in 10 years. Thats what not only the “countryside” but all of India should know. And the 36 aircraft as rightly pointed out by our air force was an “emergency” purchase due to the callousness of the previous regime (what, defence minister Antony was loathe to take any decision, and Vadra alas could not benefit).

    That’s the reason it was a county to country deal. So that there were no kickbacks and on-time delivery was backed by sovereign guarantee of France.

    Finally, Shekharji…please write a column on offsets. What offsets have our defence deals till now produced (you will be surprised at the riduculous “high-tech” nature of what is passed off as off-sets0. And btw, Ambani’s takeover of Pipapav shipyard many years ago, does give him a defence background. Good enough for the US Seventh fleet to choose that Reliance entity for maintaining the their fleet — which was earlier being done in Singapore and S Korea.

  10. It is evident Anil Ambani whom PM,Modi took with him to France is the Quottarochi of opaque Rafale deal at inflated price. Mukul Rohtagi ,the former AG of Modi govt. who resigned in 2017 is now representing Anil Ambani in SC in the telecom cases will be the backroom boy between the Ambanis and the Modi govt. on the offset contract.Don’t forget this is also the season for electoral bonds.

  11. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist, Barnala (Punjab)

    Shekhar Sahib,
    In his popular tragedy, “HAMLET” Willaim Shakespeare through the character of Marcellus remarks,
    ” Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
    Going through your current National Interest column entitled, ” Rafale is n’t Modi’s Bofors scandal- at least not yet “,
    to some extent your second part of the title ” at least not yet ” can be deemed convincing for the time being because the TRUTH has not come to the fore in its true clours but glimpses and flickerings of it here and there are in the ambit of appearing and disappearing at regular and irregular intervals !

    But now not only something in Shakespearean terms but indeed ” a lot ” is rotten in the Rafale Fighter Aircraft Deal Tale !

    Earlier on, your assertion that” Rafale not a Bofors ” seemed convincing to begin with but now your goodself too appears to be utterly
    non-plussed and confused on this sensitive issue !

    Your mode of comparing this issue from various dimensions does not seem to be appealing and worth swallowing !
    Comparison of Rafale with Bofors is flawed upto a great extent ! Are a celebrated Journalist Mr. Arun Shourie -a former Union Minister , Mr.Yashwant Sinha- a seasoned bureaucrat – cum- former Union Minister and a known jurist Mr.Prashant Bhushan light weights and not figures of integrity ? Can the sincere, true and spirited efforts of Mr.Shatrughan Sinha be undermined or overlooked while inviting the wrath of BJP supremos, while still in BJP ? Is it not something very daring and laudable on Shatru’s part? Should not Mr.Kirti Azad’s back be patted up for taking up cudgels against Mr. Arun Jaitley ? The Swaraj Party Chief Yogendra Yadav too has raised his voice against Rafale Deal bungling making his contribution in digging out the truth ! All these known figures have been leaving no stone unturned to fight with their backs to the wall on issues of public and national significance against an authoritarian and totalitarian regime !

    When you speak so very high of late Mr.V.P.Singh’s stature and his success in exposing late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s alleged acts of omission and commission in BOFORS Scam, did he get success overnight ? He a man of self- sacrifice and integrity too had to struggle and grapple with it consistently ! The gentlemen mentioned above are also striving to corner glory in Rafale Drama. Sans any reservation, their objective, sincere and selfless pro-nation endeavours deserve solidarity and encouragement !

    It is not fair on your part to bring in Congress for its past alleged scams offering the duo of NaMo-Amit Shah and BJP leadership a handle to cover-up and distract public attention from the wrong doings of the ruling dispensation ! If Congress under Mr.Rajiv Gandhi was under the cloud for Bofors Defence Deal, it was punished and discarded by the electorate in 1989 Lok Sabha Polls. If Congress under the stewardship of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and UPA Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh disappointed masses by indulging in alleged scams, the Congress’s number tally shrank to worst ever 44 in the annals of Lok Sabhs Polls failing to claim even the leader of opposition stature in Lok Sabha !

    Does it imply that the duo of NaMo-Amit Shah go scot free evading accountability, transparency and answerability to the nation ?
    Where is it written in the constitution of India that Congress or Congress Chief Mr.Rahul Gandhi for that matter cannot question the ruling party on issues of Nation’s Defence -National Interest ?

    There is a soul- searching question why should ” an upright-popular Prime Minister full of integrity ” take a defaulter businessman for a defence deal alongwith him overlooking his Defence Minister, his External Affairs Minister, his Foreign Secreatry ? The defaulter businessman happens to be the beneficiary of the deal on paper as per the reports pouring in ! Who will clear the mist and fog because things stand mired in secrecy of the defence of the nation ?

    Coming to the media’s role nowadays, we must confess that we too are found wanting ! When you mention ” It is easy to say now that all journalists……. Modi. So what, can you expect ? I put it like this ! The objective-fearless media howsoever small it may be in numbers has” an easy ” but significant role to play in unearthing the truth ! You do not need rigorous investigative journalism at present in Rafale now, but the media needs to hit the bouncer effortlessly offering it just the right direction for a six ! Once a leading journalist of India Mr. Arun Shourie, Mr.Yashwant Sinha – an economist -cum -diplomat and a seasoned Jurist Prashant Bhushan have bowled bouncer on the pitch of CBI on record ! The Congress led by Mr. Rahul Gandhi too has bowled “a googly “on the pitch of CAG on record ! For media, it should be more than enough to nail the truth proving true to its task !

    Kudos to Mr.Sanjiv Bhatla for wonderful and convincing feedback on the topic in question ! I have very carefully gone through both his comments in two shifts- one at 9.31 a.m. the second one at 12.22 p.m. His views and arguments sound very rational and pragmatic in tone and tenor offering viable clues to reach at truth !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala(Punjab)

  12. YES. It increasingly appears that Rahul is parroting the Rafale story NOT because there really is anything in it. The simple fact is that HE HAS NOTHING ELSE. The ten year UPA rule has left with little to recommend another Congress innings. Regional parties have captured the space that Congress vacated through its sheer arrogance and smugness, not aware that its presence was becoming irrelevant by the day. He has neither the charisma of Indira nor the affable face of Rajiv. Rajiv had the tremendous advantage (which he frittered away very fast) of the immense 400 plus seats following Indira’s assassination. Sonia survived the 2004 minority strength in the Lok Sabha and UPA could form a government ONLY because Harkishan Singh Surjeet pledged the Left to her. Rahul now has NONE of any such factors for him. In his interaction with people, he has hardly shown any sparks of leadership or the imagination and fire required to challenge Modi and take over as PM, EXCEPT for the unseemly and inexplicable haste to do so; in the process painting Modi as an usurper of Rahul’s own divine right to rule India. Unfortunately, Sonia’s approach also conveys that she has the same impression; that Modi has somehow become PM but has no right to continue. With such talent and outlook, merely flogging the Rafale Horse can yield NO dividend in the elections, which need something entirely different to impress people to actually vote for him. Which is just as well for the country.

  13. I was reading the hindi version of this article. Who is doing the translation of these hindi versions. Is it being done by some software – नैतिक ताकत, याराना पूंजीवाद, राहुल इस अश्वमेध यज्ञ के अश्व नहीं – that’s not how it should read.

    I have done the translation of first few paragraphs from the English version, please see below. I have added first two paragraphs because I think it adds the necessary context.

    सन 1986 में, जब राजीव गाँधी प्रधान मंत्री थे, भारत सरकार ने स्वीडन की एक कंपनी बोफोर्स के साथ हथियारों का एक बड़ा सौदा किया I इस सौदे के कुछ ही समय बाद, स्वीडन के एक समाचार एजेंसी ने यह खुलासा किया कि इस सौदे को प्राप्त करने के लिए बोफोर्स कंपनी ने भारतीय एवं स्वीडिश राजनेताओं और अधिकारियों को रिश्वत दिया है I यह घटना बोफोर्स घोटाला के नाम से जानी जाती है ! 1989 के लोक सभा चुनावों में राजीव गांधी की हार के पीछे बोफोर्स घोटाले का बड़ा हाथ था !

    अब बात करते है वर्तमान की ! सन 2012 में मनमोहन सिंह सरकार ने फ्रांस की एक कंपनी राफेल के साथ लड़ाकू विमान खरीदने के लिए एक बड़े सौदे की शुरुवात करी ! हालाँकि, जब 2014 में मोदी सरकार आयी तो इसने मनमोहन सिंह सरकार द्वारा तक किये सौदे में काफी कुछ बदलाव कर दिया, जैसे कितने विमान फ्रांस से सीधे ख़रीदे जायेंगे, कितने भारत में बनाये जायेंगे, विमानों में कितना तकनीकी बदलाव किया जायेगा, तथा कौन सी भारतीय कंपनी विमान निर्माण में राफेल के साथ काम करेगी ! साथ ही नए सौदे में विमानों के मूल्य पहले से ज्यादा बताए जा रहे है !

    इन सब कारणों से, कुछ विपक्षी नेताओ एवं मीडिया कर्मियों ने राफेल सौदे में भ्रष्टाचार का आरोप लगाना शुरू कर दिया है ! मोदी के कट्टर आलोचकों ने अभी तक ये सीधे सीधे कहना तो शुरू नहीं किया है, पर वो ये मान चुके है कि राफेल की वजह से मोदी सरकार का भी वही हाल होगा जो बोफोर्स की वजह से राजीव गांधी सरकार का हुआ था ! इन लोगो की माने तो जहां कुछ महीने पहले तक मोदी सरकार को हराना असंभव था, राफेल की वजह से अब ये संभव हो सकता है ! इनका ये भी मानना है कि राफेल सौदे को मोदी सरकार का बोफोर्स बनने में बस दो चीजों की कमी है !

    पहला तो ये कि अभी तक ज्यादातर ग्रामीण लोगो को राफेल सौदे की कोई जानकारी ही नहीं है ! उदहारण के तौर पर, एक इंडिया टुडे – एक्सिस सर्वेक्षण कि मुताबिक, उत्तर प्रदेश में सिर्फ 21 प्रतिशत लोगो को ये पता है कि राफेल क्या है ! लोगो को ये जानकारी न होने का दोष हम पत्रकारों पर मढ़ा जा रहा है !

    दूसरा और ज्यादा बड़ा मसला ये है कि अभी विपक्ष के पास वी. पी. सिंह जैसा साफ़ सुथरी छवि वाला कोई नेता नहीं है, जिसकी बातो पर लोग विश्वास कर पाए ! कांग्रेस और राहुल गाँधी के पास ऐसी बिस्वस्नियता नहीं है, उन पर तो अभी भी बोफोर्स और यूपीए 2 के घोटालो का साया मंडरा रहा है !

    हालाँकि ऐसा प्रतित होता है कि अब विपक्ष ने, और खासकर राहुल गाँधी ने, यह निश्चय कर लिया है कि 2019 के लोकसभा चुनाव में उनका मुख्य मुद्दा राफेल ही होगा ! उनको ये उम्मीद है कि राफेल केस को केंद्र बिंदु बनाकर, मोदी सरकार पर भ्रष्टाचार एवं भाई-भतीजावाद का इल्जाम लगाने की नीति कारगर साबित होगी ! कांग्रेस ये इल्जाम लगाएगी कि अगर मोदी जी को खुद एक ऐसे व्ययसायी के साथ रिश्ते रखने में संकोच नहीं है जिन पर भ्रष्टाचार के आरोप लगे है, और जिनकी कई कंपनियां घाटे में पढ़कर या तो बंद होने के कगार पर है या दिवालिया घोषित हो चुकी है; तो भला मोदी जी को दूसरे व्ययसायिओं, जो थोड़े काम विवादित है और जिनकी कंपनियां मुनाफा कमाती है, के साथ रिश्ते रखने में क्या ही संकोच होगा ! कुल मिलाकर देखा जाये तो कांग्रेस ने अपनी पुरानी रणनीति ‘सूट -बूट की सरकार’ को एक नया रूप दे दिया है, इस बार राफेल को केंद्र बिंदु बनाकर !

    If you think this translation is better, then maybe we can have some agreement on me doing the translation. Please reply through the email only.

  14. Am terribly disappointed in the way Shekhar is approaching the whole problem. Forget Bofors, forget the politics of it. We expect you to be honest and ask the right questions, rather than be an apologist for others.
    I don’t want to repeat what has already been said by some others in the comments, please read the Wire and being an intelligent man come up with the right questions.
    If HAL had problems, the answer was for the GOI was to support HAL by getting Dassault to get into a Special Vehicle joint-venture with HAL and to get Dassault engineers to work with HAL.
    How does HAL not being good make Reliance the ideal partner, given the track record of Reliance. What is your take on Reliance being recommended to be the offset partner?
    You know it there is going to be no smoking gun, or a money trail. Corruption has moved to different levels. In this age there will never be money trails.
    Please Mr ShekharGupta, let us feel we are listening to a seasoned journalist talking and not a party spokesperson. You have a responsibilty to the nation which you should discharge honourably or else just be silent like the many others.

  15. Journalists have proven the power of the pen, so anything can be made believable by them, however the recent incidents involving lobbying and political cronyism by journalists in the 2G scam and other scams have shown the darker side of their intentions and who can forget the journalist who one fine morning published that Delhi was going to be attacked by our own Indian Army – that really took the cake!!!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here