Rafale Scam: Indian Election, Lobbyism And Deception


Lobbyism around the world has reinforced the reality of profit being privatized, and the loss being socialized. It has dangerously deprived the already marginalized working class, that are struggling with the economic urgency to survive. The somatic structure of balance of economical equity and equal representation of interest has become a myth by itself. In the absence of counteractions by the political body, the pervasive accumulation of monetary profit by the corporations have increased, thereby, endangering the democratic soma of the nation-state. Recently, French authorities have made a startling revelation about the biggest offset lobbyism that has been witnessed in the history of Indian politics – Rafael deal.

As India’s debt under Modi govt surges to Rs 82 lakh crore, Modi is busy with his politics of appeasement. Modi has been acting as a middleman for the Ambani brothers, committing a treason. Mukesh Ambani’s wealth has increased by Rs 300 crore daily last year, while adding a staggering USD 15.3 billion dollars to his wealth, in the year 2017; all under Modi’s reign. Now, as Modi is caught in the biggest lobbying scandal (Rafael deal), his selective mutism around this issue is insulting to each civilian. PM Modi, during his visit to France in 2015 announced that India would acquire 36 Rafael fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation, worth Rs. 58,000 crore .This negotiated amount by the Modi government is 41% higher for each jet as compared to the price finalized during UPA-II. The deal was given to Anil Ambani, who has minimal to no experience in aircrafts. Infact, Rafael offset contract has been given to Reliance Defense, which was formed 12 days before the announcement of the Rafael deal. ‘Mediapart’, a French language publication, quoted Francois Hollande (2018), “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice. We took the interlocutor who was given to us.” Why Anil Ambani led Reliance Defense was given a deal, as opposed to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), that has expertise in making Tejas aircraft? This is symbolic of how lobbyism works at organic level, serving the corporates with tax waiver and aiding in pervasive accumulation of wealth.

Two weeks back, French newspaper ‘LeMonde’ dropped a bombshell stating that the French authorities passed off Anil Ambani’s $162 million tax after Modi led NDA government negotiated Rafael deal with the France based Dassault Aviation. Mathematical numbers do not lie, and nor the tax litigation papers. Ambani’s company (Reliance Atlantic Flag France) was under investigations by the French authorities for not paying 60 million euros in taxes between the year 2007 to 2010. This amount had escalated to 91 million euros in taxes, between the year 2010 to 2012. Initially, Ambani offered to pay 7.6 million euro as taxes, which was rejected by the French authorities. By the time the Rafael deal was announced, Ambani owed an astounding amount of approx. 151 million euros in taxes to the French State. However, six months after Rafael deal, French authorities settled his 151 million euros to an amount of 7.3 million euros in taxes.

The problem with lobbyism is that Modi led government has caused irreversible loss of tax payer money by signing the deal worth Rs. 58,000 crores. Not only this scam acted as a tax waiver haven for Ambani, but also scrutinized the national security by giving a deal to a corporation that has minimal expertise in manufacturing or assembling defense aircrafts. The benefit Reliance corporation has received via this offset scam is prominent. However, the question arises on how Modi has benefited from Rafael deal? India’s Lok Sabha elections(2019) are in process, and the obscene amount of money spend on political campaigns can potentially cast an empirical shadow on how Modi has benefited. NDTV, an Indian media outlet writes,” Political parties in India have spent over Rs. 3.76 crore on 831 election ads on Google platforms between February 19 and April 3 , with the Modi led BJP leading the table with the expenditure of Rs. 1.21 crore (1.21 billion dollars) for 554 ads”. One is often left with a question. Who is funding BJP’s with blasphemous amount of money for political campaigns?

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), corporations have contributed nearly 12 times more capital towards BJP political funding, as opposed to the rest of the national parties, in the year 2017-2018. NDA government has received an estimate of 93 percent of all donations of amount Rs 20,000 or above, from the corporates. The rest of the percentage involves individual donors. So, how does the corporate funding flows into the banks of political party? This occurs via the policy of purchase of Electoral Bonds.During the first issue of Electoral Bonds, astounding amount of Rs 222 crore of bonds were purchased by the corporations to fund the political parties in India, according to the reports by the Economic Times dated 17th March 2018 .Now, since the nature of these transactions are anonymous, it is empirically impossible to track the list of corporate bond buyers and individual donors. However, political analyst and experts claim that Reliance Group, not through the parent company, but via its subsidiaries purchased Rs 250 crore of Electoral bonds. This was done within the period of the three issues from March to June 2018. Purchase of bonds for political funding defines two purpose. Primarily, it creates a structural foundation for greater influence of corporation on government policies and its accountability. Secondly, it gives the corporation a proportionate tax exemption for the previous year, as the donations are reflected on the sheets of accounts of the previous financial year.

Now, given the blasphemous amount of profit Ambani brothers have accumulated under Modi’s governance, it points out towards the mutually benefiting relation thecorporation-government(Ambani-BJP) is monetarily pleasuring from. Rafael deal with France, RelianceDefense and Engineering deal with US Navy, Reliance Defense deal with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System, Reliance Defense deal with Russia’s Almaz-Antey etc, has been given to the Ambani brothers during Modi’s foreign trips between the year 2015-2018. All the above mentioned deals is expected to generate no less than $5 billion worth revenue for these corporate brothers.

One is often left with the question that political scientist are determined to exfoliate – How can one stop the downright flow of money in politics? While this is still hard to answer, they are certain about one thing–Internationally, democracy of any country is distorted when a tsunami of corporate political funding goes underground, because there is a lack of transparency in government-corporate accountability. The role of the government is outsourced to big corporations, who maintain the architectural soma of a capitalist pyramid, with a mathematical rule –let profit is privatized, and loss be socialized among the tax payers of a country.So, is Prime Minister of Indiaguilty on both grounds?

Parul Verma . PhD scholar and a political analyst, whose work on communal lynching of minorities in India and Israel-Palestine conflict, has been published in multiple internationalmedia outlet. For any feedback or query, mail at [email protected].


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