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Rafale review petition judgment: The Bone on BJP’s throat - April 12, 2019

On 10 th  April 2019, the Supreme Court of India dismissed the Indian government’s argument about the secrecy clause and allowed the published newspaper documents as evidence in the Rafale deal case. This judgment comes just a day before the first phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, which is a big setback for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). Despite its aggressive posturing and press conferences, the Rafale review petition judgment becomes a bone in BJP’s throat. This judgment also gives a boost to the opposition parties, i.e, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi, where he has consistently criticised the government on Rafale deal and charged the Prime Minister for favouring Indian businessman, Anil Ambani over Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Additionally, Gandhi has used the verdict to call out the involvement of the PM and his party in the case, by starting a campaign line, called ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’, which is also the Congress party’s election song.

One of the important aspects of the judgment is that the Supreme Court observed that some visual media channels have been biased in their approach while enjoying the freedom of the press, without any responsibility. It is a clear indication that the media channels have been blocking the opposition views on the Rafale deal, in support of the BJP. On the political front, the judgment will boost the morale of opposition parties, especially the Congress parties were they will launch a scathing attack on the PM and his party, who will find it difficult to counter the Supreme Court judgment, as it amounts to contempt of court. Moreover, Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan’s endorsement of Narendra Modi acts as a deterrent to BJP, as most of its campaign revolves around accusing the Indian opposition of siding with Pakistan. This also has a flip side - there would be rising communal polarisation as the BJP is faced with more criticism, which in turn would garner votes in favour of the party by leading the secular forces and minorities to a dangerous end.

But the Rafale review petition judgment is a clear blow to the BJP and the Narendra Modi government. The Rafale bone is clearly stuck in BJP’s throat which will hurt them and make them uncomfortable.

- Dr. V. Lenin Kumar