Contact Sharma Accuses Centre Of Crony Capitalism
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Contact Sharma Accuses Centre Of Crony Capitalism

A day after former Defence Minister A.K. Antony took on the government over the Rafale deal with France, the Congress on Sunday kept up its offensive, questioning why the State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. was kept out of the agreement for the purchase of the fighter jets.

Targeting the NDA government as it completes one year in office, Congress leader and former Union Minister Anand Sharma said as per the earlier arrangement, the HAL was to manufacture 108 jets through transfer of technology from the French company. “Then why was the HAL kept out of the government-to-government agreement despite the fact that the State-owned company has assembly lines in view of its old collaboration with France on the Mirage deal,” Mr. Sharma asked at an AICC briefing. The Rafale jets are a next-generation variant of the Mirage jets.

During his visit to France last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signed an agreement for buying 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition at a cost of over $6 billion.

Mr. Antony had on Saturday raised several questions over the deal as he wondered whether the Finance Ministry and the Defence Acquisition Council were taken on board while clinching the agreement with France.

Accusing the government of crony capitalism, Mr. Sharma asked if it was in the national interest to keep the HAL out of the deal, and wanted to know which private sector firm had been brought in instead.

He alleged that edging out of public sector units was a pattern being followed by the NDA government.

He said the NDA government had entered into agreements for import of certain items which were to benefit PSUs.

“However, when the MoUs [Memorandum of Understanding] were actually signed, the PSUs were left out and private parties were brought in instead,” he said.

“If the NDA government denies this is crony capitalism, the Congress will announce lists and details of such deals, including the dates on which they were effected,” Mr. Sharma said.

Reacting to the government’s claims that one year of its rule saw no scams and scandals, Mr. Sharma said the Congress had raised the issue of crony capitalism and it was for the government to explain why the PSUs, including HAL, were kept out of various deals.

He asked why only a select group of industrialists were always chosen to accompany the Prime Minister on foreign visits.

Over-centralisation

Mr. Sharma said because of over-centralisation in the government’s decision-making, several key posts such as those of the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the Chief Information Commissioner and the heads of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) were lying vacant.“If it is true that the government is very decisive, then what is the reason for not appointing chiefs for these important bodies,” Mr. Sharma asked.


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