NEW DELHI: CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had consistently undermined the Air Force and the Defence Ministry to benefit his "cronies" in the Rafale deal.
Yechury's comments come after a report in The Hindu newspaper claimed that the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to "parallel discussions" conducted by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) during the negotiations over the Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal between India and France.
"Modi has consistently undermined the Air Force and Defence Ministry in the Rafale deal for corruption, to benefit his cronies. His actions have hurt the public exchequer & damaged national security. These facts have been hidden from Supreme Court where a review petition is pending," Yechury tweeted.
Modi has consistently undermined the Air Force & Defence Ministry in the Rafale deal for corruption, to benefit his cronies. His actions have hurt the public exchequer & damaged national security. These facts have been hidden from Supreme Court where a review petition is pending. https://t.co/WZuuKqu9Y8— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) 8 February 2019
"The PM must take responsibility for the loss to the exchequer, violation of procedure to get far fewer fighter jets than what Air Force wanted. All just to help cronies," the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said.
Yechury alleged that the "wires in this scam go straight to the top man".
"For whose benefit was Modi undermining defence ministry & Air Force? Why was IAF's Deputy Chief forced to write to Modi's PMO to stop 'parallel negotiations' with France?" The Left leader asked.
"We have always said Modi is directly involved in corruption & cronyism in this? 59,000 crore Rafale scam," he added.
The Centre has strongly denied any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France, with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissing the media report on the deal as "flogging a dead horse" and slamming the Opposition for playing into the hands of "vested interests".