New Delhi, Jul 3 (PTI) The Congress on Saturday demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Rafale deal, alleging corruption in the purchase of the fighter jets, and said such an investigation is the only way forward to find the truth.
The Congress said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should order the investigation and come clean on the deal.
The opposition party is also set to rake up the issue in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The Congress' demand came after French investigative website Mediapart reported that a French judge has been appointed to lead a 'highly sensitive' judicial investigation into alleged 'corruption and favouritism' in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal with India.
'Corruption in the Rafale deal has come out clearly now. The stand of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi has been vindicated today after the French government ordered a probe,' Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told a press conference.
The French public prosecution agency has ordered an investigation into the alleged corruption in the defence deal, he said and urged Prime Minister Modi to come forward and order the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.
Surjewala said since the matter deals with national security and identity, a fair and independent JPC probe is the only way out and not the Supreme Court.
'When the French government has accepted that there is corruption in the deal, should a JPC probe not be held in the country where the corruption took place,' he asked.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also took an apparent swipe over the Rafale deal, while party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra quoted Lord Buddha to say, 'Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.' The BJP, however, accused the Congress of playing politics on the issue and alleged that Gandhi is acting as an agent of rival defence companies and being used as a 'pawn'.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra played down the French investigation and said the Congress keeps raking up corruption allegations in the Rafale deal in an attempt to 'weaken' India.
Surjewala said this issue is not about Congress versus BJP, but this is an issue that concerns the security of the country and 'corruption' in the biggest defence deal.
'The facts now clearly tell and call for a thorough JPC probe into the Rafale scam. Will the prime minister, like the French, now answer to the nation and tell when the prime minister will submit his government to a JPC probe into the Rafale scam,' the Congress leader asked.
He said this is an issue of national interest and against those who are filling their pockets by indulging in corruption in defence deals.
Surjewala said a JPC probe will be able to call witnesses and will be able to have access to all government files which the Supreme Court (SC) or the Central Vigilance Commission could never see.
It will be able to ask probing questions, will be able to punish somebody for lying and will be able to summon the prime minister, defence minister or defence ministry officials and anybody else, he said.
The Congress leader said in view of the latest revelations, it becomes all the more scandalous. 'The JPC is the only way forward,' he claimed.
When asked if the Congress would move court again, Surejwala said, 'This is not a matter to be deliberated by the court as the SC finally conceded. They don't have the jurisdiction, wherewithal or capacity to let witnesses depose before the SC or to have access to the entire government record. Only a fair independent JPC can do it.' On this matter, Surjewala said, the Congress has said it will not go to court The prime minister should order the JPC probe and the issue concerns national security and India's identity both inside and outside Parliament, he said when asked if the party would raise the issue in Parliament.
He said any Indian interested in the issue of national security, protecting the public exchequer and ensuring that all defence deals, particularly India's biggest defence deal is transparent, is accountable and is free from any corruption, needs to demand that the government comes clean on the issue and there is a JPC probe. PTI SKC ANB ANB