‘PM opened door for Ambani to steal’: Rahul renews Rafale attack

Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday over a media report which claimed the government waived anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal, alleging he “opened the door” to allow Anil Ambani to “steal” Rs 30,000 crore from the Air Force.

Gandhi’s scathing attack came after a report in The Hindu claimed the Rafale deal between India and France involved “major and unprecedented” concessions from the Indian government, with critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties and making payments through an escrow account dropped days before the signing of the inter-governmental agreement.

“NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 Cr. from the IAF,” Gandhi tweeted tagging the report.

The government, as well as Ambani, have strongly refuted allegations of any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France.

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said the Rafale deal is unravelling faster than the government thought.

“First, it was the loading of the India Specific Enhancement costs on 36 aircraft instead of 126 aircraft giving a bonanza to Dassault. Then it was the revelation that ‘parallel negotiations’ were being carried on by PMO undermining the efforts of the Indian Negotiating Team,” he said in a series of tweets.

Now it is revealed that crucial changes were made to the clauses in the standard Defence Procurement Procedure, he said.

“No sovereign guarantee, no bank guarantee, no escrow account, yet a huge amount was paid as advance,” Chidambaram alleged.

Lashing out at the Modi government, he said, “No penalty clause for undue influence, no clause against agency commission, no clause for access to suppliers’ accounts, and Dassault goes laughing all the way to the bank.”

Citing the media report, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Modiji, after waiving off sovereign guarantee in Rafale deal, you also waived off the ‘anti-corruption measure’ of a ‘safeguard Escrow A/c’! What is the corruption you wanted to hide?”

The whole country is abuzz that “chowkidar chor hai”, he said.

The Congress has been alleging irregularities in the Rafale deal but the government has vehemently rejected all allegations.

Last week, the Congress president had demanded answers to questions raised by another report in the newspaper that the PMO conducted parallel negotiations on the Rafale deal.

Repeating the “chowkidar” epithet, he ramped up his attack on the prime minister and said it was clear “crystal clear” that the “watchman” is the “thief”.

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