Rafale deal: Money laundering and BJP
NO one in India was aware about the philosophy behind Prime Minister Narindra Modi’s boast that, had there been Rafale with Indian Air Force (IAF), Pakistan Air Force (PAF) could not have targeted and fallen two Indian aircrafts on February 27, 2019.
During his address at a public gathering at Ahmedabad, PM Modi said, “If IAF had Rafale during the air strikes then India wouldn’t have lost anything and Pakistan wouldn’t have anything left.”
Indeed, no one among the Indian masses, no intellectual or general among the audience corrected Prime Minister Modi that, ‘It’s not the gun but man behind the gun who matters’.
The American statesman Theodore Roosevelt explained this entire relationship in the wordings; “The truth is that any good modern rifle is good enough. The determining factor is the man behind the gun.
By emphasizing the significance of Rafale, Mr Modi was indeed, underestimating the professionalism of Indian Air Force. Very recently, the same viewpoint was reinforced by General BiponRawat, who gauged the role of IAF like a supporting arm for Indian Army.
Indeed, a year after the first batch of Rafale was formally inducted into Indian Air Force; there is no worthwhile change in the combat worthiness of IAF.
Rather, two parallel sets of controversies have started in India over the Indian Government Rafale Deal with French Government and a war of words between Indian Chief of Defence Staff and Indian Chief of Air Staff over the actual role of IAF in Indian Joint Warfare.
It is intimated that Indian military is undergoing a massive reforms system which include; modernization of weapon system and theaterisation of command structure.
The modernization of all three services consists of; bolstering and speeding-up the combat worthiness of all three services in a time period of 5-7 years.
This includes; modernisation of all critical weapons, missiles, fighter jets, submarines and warships either through new purchases like Rafale or indigenous production.
This is being done through ‘mega procurement plan which would cost over $130 billion in less than a decade’s time, starting from 2019.’ The theaterisation of command in Indian Military is being done on the line of Chinese PLA.
As perceived by Gen Bipon Rawat, the Indian CDS, there will be five unified theatre commands of all three services, aiming to; achieve better planning, quick military response and a joint/ unified approach for fighting the future war.
The blue print of this threaterisation has met difference among three services, involving wider political circle; Modi’s BJP and other political parties.
Indeed, the sceptics quote Liddell Hart saying over these massive reforms, who once said, “The only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military mind is to get the old one out.”
General Rawat is trying to modernize and threaterise Indian military through a traditional and neurotic approach which is non-starter in its entirety.
It is worth mentioning that, Indian Military Modernization has failed many a time in the past four decades, the prominent being the Cold Start Doctrine, the brainchild of General KrishnaswamySundarji.
As the Army Chief of Indian Army General Rawat tried to re-activate the Cold Start Doctrine, however it ended up as failure in a rapidly changing environment of modern battlefield.
Modi’s philosophy behind necessity of having Rafale for IAF which could have countered the broad day light targeting of Indian aircrafts on February 27, 2019 has many mysteries, now unfolding one by one.
Indeed, the deal for the purchase of 126 Rafale manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France was initiated in 2004 and processed in 2007.
It was almost final in 2014, once there was a change of the Government in India with Modi as the new Prime Minister.
In April 2015, in a period of less than one year of BJP Government, Prime Minister Modi ordered cancellation of the deal without assigning any explanation.
Indeed, during his visit of France in April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a meeting with French President, Francois Hollande and decided to replace the original Rafale deal of 126 aircrafts with just 36 aircrafts, all were to be made in France by Dassault.
The famous Indian capitalist Anil Ambani of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (Reliance ADAG) later became the of-set partner of Dassault. After replacement of the deal by PM Modi, Randeep Surjewala, leader of Indian Congress party disclosed in 2017 that procurement of the Rafale has bypassed the procedure of acquisition of aircrafts with some veiled motives.
It was also revealed that, the new deal has substantially escalated the cost of aircrafts; from Rs 526.1 crore to Rs 1,570 crore.
While the Indian Government had managed to hide the commission, it received from Dassault, the French anti-corruption agency Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) found financial anomaly in the deal.
“The agency’s (AFA) inspectors found that Dassault had agreed to pay one million euros to a middleman just after the 2016 signing of the Rafale fighter jet deal. That middleman is now accused of money laundering in India in another defence deal.
The company said the money was used to pay for the manufacture of 50 large replica models of Rafale jets.” The corruption in the Rafale Deal by BJP Government under Modi has been proved by AFA, France.
Apart from the commission, Modi Government received from Dassault, there are many other aspects which emerged as a result of initial probe of the deal.
The most significant aspect is the money laundering, a subject of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), whose headquarters is in Paris, France.
Should this inter-governmental organisation probe the Indian money laundering cases, revealed as a result of probe by AFA of France?
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.