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Another Scandal Like Bofors?
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
Will the UPA government, tottering under blows delivered by various exposures of corruption scams, have to face another, possibly knockout, punch? The Raphale jet fighter deal needs to be watched. The issue is not which is the better plane – the French Raphale or Britain’s Typhoon. In the Bofors gun deal that rocked the Rajiv Gandhi government the issue was never about the quality of the gun. The allegations were about the considerations that led to its purchase. Will the same question arise over the Rs 62000 crore fighter jet deal?
The opposition tore into Mr. Cameron. Ms. Alison Seabeck, the Labour Shadow Defence Minister said:
The British media was more blunt and specific. Mr. Nicholas Watt writing in London’s The Guardian said:
Should anything be read between the lines? What precisely was the shadow defence minister Ms. Seabeck alluding to when she said the “French government was doing all it could to secure a multi-billion pound contract for their industries”? What did the French government do?
For Indians swamped by corruption scandals rumour and suspicion have pushed into the background hard information. People will too readily believe that any major defence deal would be struck only after kickbacks have been received. One curious feature about corruption exposures is that almost invariably information is leaked by the aggrieved losing party in a commercial deal. That is what happened in the Bofors scandal. That is what happened in many other corruption scandals. Can any such thing possibly happen in this latest mega defence deal? Well, according to a media report the first signs have emerged.
The India Today news group has reported:
It will be a sad day if years after the Bofors scandal there is a repeat occurrence. The government’s failure to legitimize middlemen for defence contract lies at the heart of the problem. It remains to be seen if the rumbling against the deal will subside or whether it has just started.
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