Amid growing political storm over multi-crore Rafale fighter jet deal, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government is scheduled to table the CAG report in Parliament on Tuesday, according to reports. However, sources said that the report will not mention the pricing details of the Rafale jets, the subject which has generated a massive political controversy in the last few months. It's been a quite long time that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been alleging corruption and impropriety in the Centre's deal to buy 36 Rafale jets from French company Dassault aviation. The Opposition also demanded that the pricing details of the fighter jets be made public, but the government has repeatedly rejected the same citing a security clause.
Meanwhile, there are also reports that the auditor was "explicitly told by the Defence Ministry that pricing details cannot be shared because of national security". There was a "lot of government pressure," according to a report published on NDTV.
The CAG report, officially known as Capital Acquisitions for Air Force, will come just a day before the end of the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament. This will be last session of the Modi-led BJP government ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2019, due in April-May. It will compare the government's decision to procure 36 aircrafts using inflation and deciding on the price of the UPA's procurement of 18 flyaway aircraft in 2007 along with the global tender.
Giving another boost to the controversy, former minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Sunday alleged conflict of interest and asked the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi to recuse himself from auditing the deal as he was the finance secretary when the deal was negotiated.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley, however, rebutted the claims of Sibal saying that the Congress was casting aspersions on the institution of CAG based on "falsehood". "Another attack on the institution of CAG by the 'Institution wreckers' based on falsehood. After ten years in Government former UPA ministers still don't know that Finance Secretary is only a designation given to the senior most secretary in the finance ministry," Jaitley said a series of tweets.
Sibal said Mehrishi was the finance secretary from October 24, 2014 to August 30, 2015 and in between Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Paris on April 10, 2015 and announced the signing of the Rafale deal.
"...Finance Ministry plays an important role in these negotiations...Now it is clear that the Rafale deal happened under Rajiv Mehrishi. Now he is CAG. We met him twice on September 19 and October 4, 2018. We told him about the scam. We told him that the deal should be probed because it is corrupt. But how can he initiate a probe against himself," Sibal added.
The Rafale issue was even raised before the Supreme Court, which did not find any substance in the allegations. However, the issue continued to rock Parliament with Congress President Rahul Gandhi directly accusing the Prime Minister of stealing money from defence forces to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani.