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CAG report likely to omit Rafale deal pricing in absolute numbers

Indivjal Dhasmana/New Delhi 11 Feb 19 | 09:03 PM

The pricing of the Rafale jet fighter deal is likely to be mentioned in redacted form — which is without absolute numbers and with variables such as x, y and z — in a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, which may be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

The report will also be on 10 other capital acquisitions by the Air Force, sources said. The report will be in two volumes, with one of them dealing with the 10 acquisitions and the other one on the Rafale deal. However, the two volumes will be in one copy. Sources said the CAG had sent its report to President Ram Nath Kovind and the finance ministry.

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The ministry will prepare a brief on the report and send it to the president, who will then give instructions for it to be tabled in Parliament. The current session of Parliament, which is the last of the 16th Lok Sabha, will end on Wednesday.

The Rafale issue was raised before the Supreme Court, which did not find any substance in the allegations. However, the issue has continued to rock Parliament with Congress President Rahul Gandhi accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of aiding industrialist Anil Ambani. Modi would have been "number one accused" in the Rafale issue had the Lokpal law been implemented, the Congress on Monday said, as the opposition targeted the government in the Lok Sabha on the fighter jet deal.

ALSO READ: Now, Chidambaram alleges Rafale deal is unraveling faster than govt thought

If anybody has to be held guilty in the deal, “it is the PM and PM alone", Congress leader Veerappa Moily said, launching a scathing attack on Modi and the Union government during a discussion on the interim Budget.

Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said the Rafale issue had “exposed the chinks" in the government’s armour.

It has proved the government is no longer incorruptible, according to him.

Modi responded by saying no defence deal during Congress rule was without kickbacks.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Sunday said in the case of CAG Rajiv Mehrishi, there was the case of conflict of interest.  How could Mehrishi “investigate himself" since he had been Union economic affairs secretary when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Rafale deal in April 2015, Sibal asked.

ALSO READ: BJP, Congress lock horns over CAG Rajiv Mehrishi's role in Rafale deal

"The same CAG was involved in harming national security when the deal was struck in 2015. The same CAG will present the report," noted the former union minister. Mehrishi was appointed Union home secretary in August 2015 before he took charge as CAG in September last year.

Responding to the Congress charges, Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who is back in India after his treatment, had tweeted the economic affairs secretary had no role in preparing expenditure files of the defence ministry and these were dealt with by the expenditure secretary.

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