Wednesday, 30 November, 2022
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Rafale deal is Bofors many times over, what it lacks is a V.P. Singh

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There are 6 conditions for a defence scam to become a political game changer, Rafale deal already fulfils four.

Will the Rafale deal do to Narendra Modi what Bofors did to Rajiv Gandhi? As we enter the last lap of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, this question holds the key to the final outcome. You don’t have to be a psephologist – whatever it means – to see the basics. It’s common sense that the BJP can only fall from the peak it had attained in 2014. It’s public knowledge that its decline has begun. It’s no brainer that the impending SP-BSP alliance and other regional coalitions are bound to damage the BJP. The real question is: How much would the BJP fall?  How the Rafale deal unfolds over the next few months can make the critical difference here.

The history of Indian elections tells us that there are six conditions for corruption allegations to become a game changer. First, there should be a general context of public disquiet over corruption. Second, there should be a critical case that symbolises corruption. Third, some independent evidence should confirm the allegations. Fourth, the regime’s counter should not be plausible. Five, mass communication should take this to the public at large. Six, there should be a credible alternative for people to junk the regime. The Rafale case meets the first four Cs; everything now hinges on the last two. (Don’t blame me for the forced alliteration here. Modiji has introduced this acronym virus in the country!)

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

Two years ago the country was simply not ready for another corruption scandal. Prime Minister Modi’s rating was very high. The contrast between this regime and the corruption-ridden days of the UPA appeared just too stark for the public to pay attention to any wrongdoing by the Modi government. We have come a long way since. The unfolding of the demonetisation disaster and the accompanying whispers that the BJP leaders were forewarned began to take off this government’s sheen. Scandals surrounding Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and company also drew public attention. A representative and credible barometer, the Lokniti-CSDS State of the Nation Survey for ABP News, shows a dramatic shift in the public mood. In May 2017, those who thought Modi government had done a ‘good job’ of curbing corruption were 43 per cent, compared to 35 per cent who said it did a ‘bad job’. Exactly a year later in May 2018, the same poll found that the balance had reversed: 36 per cent were happy while 55 per cent were unhappy with Modi government’s record on corruption.

This is the context for Rafale deal’s re-entry into public debate. This case has all the elements that make for a political scandal with an electoral impact. It involves a substantial amount of up to Rs 30,000 crores — the alleged commission for offset deals. It concerns national security. There is the ‘foreign hand’ angle. The alleged beneficiary is a big and failed corporate with a name that stands for cronyism. And, above all, it implicates the Prime Minister directly, more directly than Bofors involved then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Thus, it is a perfect case to charge this government with.

By now there is enough independent evidence in the public domain to make this charge stick. Several interviews show that our minister of defence, the ministry of external affairs and the French counterparts had no idea that the deal was suddenly going to be reversed on the day of Prime Minister Modi’s 2015 visit to France. Cost break-ups handed out by the ministry of defence are enough to nail the lie about the cost being a national secret. Enough independent experts have compared the cost item-by-item to confirm that there was, at the very least, an unexplained doubling of cost between the proposed UPA deal and the final Modi deal. There is incontrovertible evidence of the violation of defence purchase procedures. The allegation about lion’s share of the offset deal going to Anil Ambani is confirmed by his own press release. And then there is the bombshell by Hollande that connects Modi directly to Anil Ambani’s sudden entry. There is no direct evidence yet of quid pro quo, of linking the windfall benefits for Anil Ambani to the current regime. But there is enough masala to hang this government in a public trial.

Also read: The big questions about the Rafale deal you didn’t know whom to ask

The confusion, contradictions and conceit in the government’s counter to the corruption allegations have made it worse. In the last couple of months, we have seen a political circus with every BJP leader and minister outbidding the rest in putting his or her foot in mouth on Rafale. First, the denials about public knowledge of cost, then claims about the cost being lower than the earlier deal. We have the spectacle of a defence minister running down HAL, one of the few public sector enterprises with a decent record and her claims being refuted by the retired HAL chief. Not far behind is the ministry of external affair’s faux-pax in making allegations of conflict of interest against former French President. Add to it the unseemly sight of the serving Air Force big-wigs being made to air opinions that are irrelevant, if not stepping into a political debate. Then we have the minister of spin doctoring, blogging away to show how incoherent and nervous this government is when it comes to the Rafale deal. And in case you were still unsure, the attempt to invoke Pakistan leaves you convinced that ‘daal me kuchh kaala hai’.

What, then, is missing? The issue has not had the kind of amplification that it deserves. These allegations and some of the evidence has been in the public domain for well over two years, but the media has simply not picked enough courage to talk about it. Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Parliament broke the conspiracy of silence, but Congress crying foul over corruption doesn’t make for a good article. Those implicated in Bofors cannot talk too loud on the Rafale deal. Hence the press conferences by Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Prashant Bhushan carry much greater conviction. The media has begun to report on the Rafale deal, but news TV channels are still cagey. An Axis-My India telephonic poll for India Today found that only 21 per cent of the voters in UP had heard about Rafale.

Also read: A quick guide for BJP on how NOT to defend the Rafale defence deal

Finally, every corruption scandal needs a credible alternative − a face, an organisation, a party that offers clean government. That is hardly the hope a mahagatbandhan of Congress, BSP, JD(S), RJD and NCP generates.

Rafale is Bofors many times over; what it lacks is a V.P. Singh.

Yogendra Yadav is National President of the newly-formed party, Swaraj India

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  1. 1St of all, what challenge India is facing today is that we are going for a Presidential type of democracy. We vote for our MPs not PM. So if the MP works for our constituency, or not becomes absolute negligible here. Also, no one is accusing the BJP-NDA or the Pradhan Sevak here. The questions that are been raised is genuine and the Government is ought to answer to their voters. This is our right. Also, this is the only way (apart from a neutral agency to investigate it thoroughly) to clear the clouds and regain trust on the ruling Government.. YY have rightly asked the CBI director to Atleast file a request for enquiry which most likely will not done and if at all will be turned down.. Given the fact that Robert Vadra’s case was never brought up after BJP came into power, or the then NDA government never gave too much attention to bofors either makes me feel that all are hands in gloves. What is more saddening is that the so called “news hungry” mainstream media is silent over this. I am not saying the Government has done nothing, especially after fuel price cut to Rs.5/- in some states and the S400 deal, but a lot more is required… Also, it is true that there is no credible opposition around and this one is even more frustrating..

  2. Mr Yadav, If you read this please explain it in your next article,

    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.

  3. Yogendraji your premises are flawed to the point that the PM is Corrupt This is very difficult to digest

  4. Even if Dassault had chosen Anil Ambani on its own, why did the Modi government NOT VETO that choice IN NATIONAL INTEREST? Did they not know that Anil Ambani had ZERO EXPERIENCE with aircrafts, and his finances were extremely shaky?

    (He hasn’t been able to pay Ericsson 575 crores, and Ericsson have asked that Anil Ambani should be prevented from leaving the country.)

    As for the price, can the Modi government at least TELL THE JPC: are there any ADDITIONAL ARMS loaded in NDA’s configuration, or only NEWER VERSIONS of the same that were there in the UPA configuration?

    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):


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

  5. Wat a BAKWASS article …there is no evidence…just castle in air… like the party of mr Yogendra Yadav…he will will not even win himself…but talk like toppling the government..HAL IS A FLOP SHOP ITS IS A DISGRAGE FOR HAL AND DRDO THAT INDIA STILL HAS TO BUY DEFENCE WEAPONS…

  6. That’s right …

    how much are you getting paid by Inc. there is no way that you can compare bofors with the nonsense spread through that incapable papu. Why don’t you spread all the good work done by the govt. in the last 4 years ?? you suedo liberals think you can win by spreading negativety …..think twice, people are not fools to believe a foolish, greedy,corrupted party like congress who have looted this country for so many decades….think twice before you publish your views….be more responsible.

  7. What I admire of Mr. Yogendra Yadav is that he can dish out utter nonsense without batting an eyelid or raising his voice. This man was crying foul of government using CBI to stop him from criticising establishment. He claimed government had initiated raid on his relatives home and office in Rewari. All of sudden Mr. Yadav has fallen silent. Must be Mr. Modi had threatened him at mid night hour not to raise his voice agains the raid. Now his favourite topic is Rafael scam. Well Mr. Yadav you are a grass root leader, you can communicate with masses, why don’t you pick up the gauntlet and convince people of the scam. You need to give some evidence. Well! who cares of evidence. These days you can call anyone a “chor” in public meeting and press conference and get away. So Mr. Yadav has taken up his pen. Good for your Sir.

  8. How much the INC is funding you per month…. Oh wait!!…. They are too stupid to even know you exist perhaps….. Frankly you guys are good but you loose your credibility when you go anti govt….. Even now the acceptance rate of modi govt is above 70percent…… People are not as stupid as RAGA would want……

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