Why the party insisted on JPC probe? The answer is simple, to keep the Rafale issue alive till 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Kill not the goose that lays golden eggs.
Nothing can better explain the situation of Congress after the Supreme Court’s Rafale verdict today than this. The only difference is it wasn’t the Congress which killed the Rafale goose but the over-enthusiastic trio of Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. For over a year, Congress built the narrative of a scam around Rafale Deal and (sincerely) pursued it in the face of the assembly elections. But the Supreme Court verdict saying there’s no need for probe has burst the hot air balloon Congress so painstakingly created around Rafale.
It was just two months ago, when Congress president Rahul Gandhi, sitting in party headquarter in Jaipur had said, “Chowkidaar hi Chor hai.” He was addressing the media over Rafale deal. “A gift worth Rs. 30,000 crores were personally given by Narendra Modi to Anil Ambani,” he said mincing no words. In another rally in Chhattisgarh, he said that PM Modi should explain the Rafale deal to the entire country. However, it was not until the Monsoon session of the parliament that Rafale became Congress’ main point of attack on the BJP and specifically, PM Modi. Remember the Rahul hug to PM Modi? Well, it was preceded by a stinging attack on PM Modi over Rafale. Later, in many rallies, Rahul did not forget to recall the day saying, “Modi couldn’t look into my eyes because he was lying about Rafale.”
For the Congress, the Rafale deal was a golden goose that was expected to give Modi its Bofors-like nightmare. Why not? It was just the kind of issue it needed while stepping in the election year. Given the ghost of Bofors Scam that haunts Congress till date, it expected similar ramifications of Rafale for the Modi government. And, Congress did work hard to create that narrative. Protest marches, meeting the CAG auditor and what not. The Congress president reportedly had even issued a diktat to the party members close to Anil Ambani to make a choice between party and the personal relations with Ambani.
The rather placid Gandhi, seemed unusually aggressive in his approach when it came to Rafale deal. His attacks on the government sharpened more as it finally started gathering steam in the mainstream media channel. Wasn’t that the aim of all this? To get media talking about Rafale deal? The goose that party had nurtured was finally laying eggs.
It even gave fodder to the dissidents of BJP to fire at the current leadership. At a National Forum event in Mumbai both Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie asked the people of Mumbai, being from financial capital, to question the Rafale “scam” which was followed after the press conference in Delhi to announce that they will be filing a petition for a court-monitored probe in the deal with Prashant Bhushan as their lawyer. After almost a month later the Supreme Court said that there was no occasion to believe that there were wrongdoings in the deal. The verdict served a perfect face-palm moment for Congress leaving it red-faced.
However, the Congress leaders are now intensifying the demand for a JPC probe. Well, the demand isn’t a new one. Since the inception of the Rafale controversy, the party had asked for a joint parliamentary committee to be formed to probe the deal. Now, why the party insisted on JPC probe? The answer is simple, to keep the issue alive till 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
A look at the history of JPC probes in India will clear all the doubts about Congress’ intent on Rafale. From the first JPC probe after Bofors scandal to the one that knocked UPA government down- 2G scam. The JPC probe didn’t really help the investigation. It only served as a political tool for the opposition.
The JPC constituted by the Congress regime on Bofors produced a report but it was boycotted by the opposition leaders. The recommendations of the JPC in Harshad Mehta stock market case were neither accepted in full nor implemented. Same goes for the Ketan Parekh share market scam and the JPC formed to probe the soft drink-pesticide issue in 2003. The JPC probe report in 2G remains by far the controversial one for absolving the then PM Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram of any responsibility.
There is still doubt about the degree of effectiveness of JPC but there are no two opinions about the fact that JPC provides fuel to keep the fire aflame. BJP pulled this on Congress with 2G. Congress expected the same with Rafale. Well, by moving to the Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie spoiled the game of Congress.
Though, the SC verdict says it does not have jurisdiction over the case and Congress still can pursue it; the ruling definitely weakened Congress’ position.