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Anti-Rafale axis of power

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Congress’ Rahul Gandhi is leading the charge against Rafale. But there are equally powerful, though largely faceless, behind-the-scene operators, who want the fighter deal to be shelved. One of them is the combine of Anil Ambani–Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Although HAL is a state-owned company, there are foreign vested interests involved. For years, HAL has worked closely with Russian vendors. If the former had become the majority beneficiary of the `30,000 crore offset clause of Rafale, a huge chunk would have been pocketed by the Russians. Such a huge hole in their pockets hasn’t pleased them. Narendra Modi’s response: buy S-400 Triumf, the world’s most lethal surface-to-air missile system from Vladimir Putin, amid a threat of sanctions from the US. Another loser is Rafale’s global competitor, Eurofighter Typhoon, which is jointly manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems, and Leonardo in Germany. Guess, who is the Eurofighter’s official agent in India? The son-in-law of a newly nominated firebrand BJP MP. Then there is the anti-Modi, cross-party political troika that has criticised Modi for a couple of years: Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha have trained their guns on the Prime Minister, as well as a prominent Cabinet Minister. Obviously, if India buys defence equipment from global vendors, there has to be wheels within wheels.

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