“You can’t make a soufflé rise twice”, former minister Jaswant Singh used to say. Yet it seems that’s exactly what the Indian National Congress is trying to do. Even as the Supreme Court of India delivered scathing remarks while dismissing the petitions for an inquiry into the Rafale, the Congress party has now decided to take the “expose” by Mediapart and the judicial inquiry initiated by France to revive the ghost of Rafale ghost.
As Congress blurs the line between fact and fiction, here’s your ready reckoner on the latest ‘revelations’ by Mediapart and the judicial inquiry initiated by France.
Despite the great length of writing and build-up, 99% of what has been passed off as new are the same old allegations. There are only 2 things that are actually “new” here.
THE RAFALE INVESTIGATION
- A French judge, who has replaced the old judge who retired, has re-opened his predecessor’s investigation that said predecessor had ended.
- The charges are unclear – varying from influence peddling to actual corruption. Let us be clear here – while the Congress party and a large section of the media are drumming up this ‘investigation’, it was one which was closed by the earlier judge, who has now retired. There is no credible information as to what the charges really are for the new investigation.
- Regarding the influence-peddling charges, there has been no proof – just supposition of the ADAG giving money to former French president Julie Gayet’s movie, set in the Himalayas. There have been no documents provided to show any connection to Dassault or the Rafale as a result of this connection. This particular “expose” by Mediapart was debunked rather extensively while the controversy was raging.
- The only proof so far has been the ledger of an arms middle man in Delhi by the name of Sushen Gupta. His accounts show payments received during 2013-2014 during the previous UPA government. These payments totalling around 11 million euros were made to a firm in Singapore. Around 2 million were transferred to India, the rest to a bank account in Mauritius – a well-known route for money laundering into India. As such the only proof relates to bribery during the Congress’ rule.
This has, in fact, been reported by Mediapart journalist as well.
According to an spreadsheet belonging to Sushen Gupta, an entity called “D” (Dassault), paid 14.6million€ to Interdev in Singapore over the period 2004-2013. Interdev transferred just 2.6M€ to the Indian company IDS, while 11.9M€ was transferred to Interstellar in Mauritius 👇 pic.twitter.com/8osMI5y5P8— Antton Rouget (@AnttonRouget) April 8, 2021
THE DEAL WITH RELIANCE
- The allegation (mind you, it is just an allegation since no documents have been provided) is that Dassault provided close to 100 million Euros for a plant to be built in Mihan for the assembly of the Falcon business jet. Yet it got only 49% share in the new joint venture with Reliance.
- Reliance, which according to these allegations, provided close to 10 million euros got a 51% share.
So why is this suspicious?
The big question is why is Mediapart not releasing the documents it claims to have seen regarding this deal?
- Primarily because it is suspected that like a forged document N Ram of The Hindu had published claiming a “scoop” – that had manipulated and hidden several side notes and dates – this is an attempt by Mediapart to do the same – manipulate the narrative through selective concealment of Information.
- The Dassault-Reliance deal as reported by Mediapart presumably only covers the initial start-up capital, not the other costs which have been borne entirely by Reliance. These would include (but not be limited to):
- The acquisition of 65 acres of land for the Mihan plant
- The funding of over 150 highly skilled engineers and families to relocate to France for training at the Dassault factory in preparation for the Technology transfer of the Falcon to Reliance
- The relocation of 40 highly skilled French engineers and their families to Mihan near Nagpur. This has also been done at significantly higher pay as Nagpur not being a prime metro is deemed a “hardship posting” with higher salaries and benefits
- Recurring costs such as – Running, Material and Testing costs, as opposed to Dassault’s one-time investment.
- Presumably, Mediapart, Like the N Ram is actively suppressing documents and reporting selectively, precisely to create a scandal where none actually exist. It’s quite alright for somebody with a low IQ like N Ram to unknowingly peddle drivel. But for a French company to not know that you can’t make a soufflé rise twice is almost a crime.
The suspicion then is not of corruption, but unethical journalism of the ‘N Ram kind’ by Mediapart.