IN a press conference held on December 17, at Delhi, to brief the decisions of the two days Central Committee meeting of the CPI(M), Sitaram Yechury, general secretary, said the effort and the initiative is to change the narrative of the political discourse for the ensuing parliamentary elections from “Hindu-Musalmaan” to “Kisan-Naujawan”. He said the last 4.5 years of Modi rule has completely exposed the hollowness of his promises and the danger that his communal politics.
There is a two-pronged attack on the people. On the one hand the economic hardships on the people continue to increase with neoliberal policies being aggressively pursued by Modi and on the other, attacks on the people’s unity were abetted with the help of the State.
Suicides continue to increase with the NCRB now even refusing to acknowledge them and have kept the data bereft of it. Farmers’ mobilisations in the recent period have shown the rampant ire prevalent amongst the peasant masses. Similarly, he pointed out the mobilisation of the youth in the country against the rising unemployment. The big promise of providing two crore jobs every year is now not even echoed by the BJP. Rather making ‘pakodas’ is the form of employment generation that Modi boasts of. This has exposed the government’s ineptness in governance.
While pointing out at the dismal performance of the Indian economy, Sitaram said the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy has rendered warning signals. The government, he said, now to meet the challenge of its 90 per cent period’s failure is trying to play with the RBI. The intentions of Modi are very bad. In case this government destabilises the RBI by allowing the Rs 3.6 lakh crore reserve money as dividend flows to the government, it will seriously alarm the finance capital which will start its flight from the country that can be extremely perilous for the economy. There is pressure on the RBI to dole out this reserve money for political reasons.
The target of fiscal deficit has already crossed its limit and now there is no money left with the government to even fulfil the already announced schemes and hence RBI is being targeted for meeting the desperation of the BJP. Speaking on the GST and the demonetisation, he said the MSME sector is the hardest hit which has thrown lakhs of people out from their jobs. The government boasts of increasing the tax base but does not inform the country the percentage increase in tax revenues. He emphatically said the overall tax revenue has decreased during the Modi rule.
Commenting on who will be the leader of the front to defeat the BJP, he categorically said that there is no all India front which is conceived. There will be several state level adjustments, fronts etc, with the intent to maximise the growth of anti-BJP/NDA forces so that the split in votes can be minimised. He brushed aside the idea of an all India front before the elections and gave the historic precedence of such fronts which were formed only after the elections. Such fronts developed in 1996 and 2004 which led to the formation of secular governments at the centre.
Speaking on the Rafale deal, he said the country and the Supreme Court have been hoodwinked by the BJP government. The Rs 59,000 crore deal is a mega-scam where the Modi government is trying to hide behind a lack of information, half-truths and lies.
The contents of the affidavits do not misconstrue because of a typing error rather it is the style in which the BJP functions. This is what needs to be exposed. He gave the 10- point charter of questions that needs to be answered on the entire Rafale issue. These questions point out at the necessity of the JPC on the deal. These are as:
BURNING QUESTIONS ON RAFALE SCAM WHICH ONLY A JPC CAN ANSWER
1. PM Modi announced the deal for 36 aircraft on April 10, 2015 whereas the defence minister headed- Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) only accepted that the IAF needed 36 Rafale (called AON or Acceptance of Necessity) on May 13, 2015. There is no official communication from the IAF or MoD about 36 Rafale before PM made the announcement. How was the decision announced even before the government accepted that IAF needed 36 Rafale jets?
2. Why was NSA Ajit Doval negotiating the deal in Paris, as recorded in official documents, on 12 and 13 January 2016? Even defence minister Parrikar recorded that one of the inputs for not having a sovereign or a bank guarantee from France came from NSA. A negotiation process is sacrosanct and no one outside the negotiation team is allowed to interfere with it. Who allowed the NSA to violate and vitiate the process for such an important deal?
3. Why did the government sign a deal with no sovereign or a bank guarantee? The letter of comfort from French PM has no real value and is not even referred to in the main text of the Inter Government Agreement (IGA) between the two countries. MoD and Law Ministry both wanted a sovereign guarantee. Even the clause for arbitration was under an agreement to which India is not a signatory, and as a winner of arbitration, India will have to get damages with private companies and not from French government. It means that it is not a government-to-government deal. Why was it signed then?
4. All defence agreements in India have a ‘follow-on’ clause in which 50 per cent of the contracted quantity can be bought by India under same terms and conditions. It was there in 126 Rafale tender but is missing from 36 Rafale deal. Why was this agreed upon when India is likely to buy more Rafale or at least have an option to do so?
5. The benchmark price (the final deal has to lower than this as per Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)) to be used by the negotiation team was fixed by the designated MoD official as Euro 5.2 bn after calculations. Three members of negotiating team agreed with this benchmark price but four others in the team decided to fix it at Euro 8.2 bn. They said that this price was discovered based on the old bid for 126 Rafale but DPP is clear that price discovery can only happen if a contract has been signed and executed. There was no contract executed for 126 Rafale so there was no question of price discovery. But this price of Euro 8.2 bn was sanctioned by CCS headed by the PM himself, allowing for a higher rate. Why?
6. Why was the DPP modified with post-facto effect in August 2015 so that Dassault did not have to tell the Indian government while signing the deal that Anil Ambani’s Reliance is its offset partner? This happened when negotiations were on and raises questions about government’s intentions.
7. Eurofighter, which had qualified during the MMRCA trials in 2011 along with Rafale, had offered a 20 per cent discount to India over its bid price. Why did India not insist on a similar discount for Rafale or explore the option of going for Eurofighter instead?
8. There were multiple objections made by 3 members of the Indian Negotiating Team about the Rafale deal but they were finally overruled by the CCS headed by PM. Each of those objections had a bearing on the price and integrity of the deal. They need to be brought out in the public for transparent decision-making. Why is the government hiding these serious written objections by top defence ministry officials?
9. The deal for 36 Rafale was based on 2007 requirements of the IAF for 126 aircraft, called the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR), when it was already 2015. Why was a new ASQR not issued to buy a better and more modern aircraft?
10. When PM Modi announced the deal for 36 aircraft in April 2015, the Request for Proposal or RFP of 2007 for 126 aircraft was still alive. It hadn’t been withdrawn or cancelled yet (it was eventually cancelled in June 2015) Agreeing to another proposal from the same company, for the same item, subverts the spirit of the MoD’s very own DPP in effect since 2013. Who allowed this violation and why?
Sitaram welcomed the decision of the Delhi High Court convicting Sajjan Kumar. While reiterating that all such rioters should be brought to law, he said the principle of justice delayed is justice denied, which is evidently seen in both the 1984 and 2002 riots. He quoted from the judgement which eloquently speaks about the dire need for bringing all such abetters of crime to the book. He read the quote from the judgement delivered by the two judges of Delhi High Court; “The mass killings in Punjab, Delhi and elsewhere during the country’s partition remain a collective painful memory as in the killings of innocent Sikhs in Novemebr 1984. There has been a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhmal, Odisha in 2008, in Muzaffarnagar in UP in 2013 to name a few. Common to these mass crimes were the targeting of minorities and the attacks spearheaded by dominant political actors being facilitated by the law enforcement agencies”. He said the judgement speaks volumes of the depth of the atrocities committed against the minorities in the country.
Highlighting the corruption present widely in the BJP he said there is a new method of legitimising corruption and that is through the electoral bonds. The identity of the giver is not revealed and the money can easily be taken by the party for helping and abetting crony capitalism in the country. It is because of this reason that of the total Rs 222 crore electoral bonds bought, Rs 210 crore (95 per cent) has gone to the BJP. This is legalising political corruption.