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Rafale Row : PM Modi ‘opened door’ for Anil Ambani, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of facilitating loot after The Hindu reported that the government had waived the anti-corruption clause from the Rafale deal just days before it signed the inter-governmental agreement with France.

“Every defence deal has an anti-corruption clause. The Hindu has reported that the PM removed the anti-corruption clause. It is clear that the PM facilitated loot,” he said and repeated the “chowkidaar chor hai” jibe at the PM outside Andhra Bhavan, where he went to extend support to chief minister Chandrababu Naidu for his one-day hunger strike.

In a tweet later, he said “the Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 Cr. from the IAF (sic)” and followed it up with “NoMo anti-corruption clause”.

The Hindu report stated that the central government had waived off critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties as well as overruled financial advisers’ recommendations for making payments through an escrow account just days before it signed the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal.

This was done by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by the then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, in September 2016, after the IGA and associated documents had been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by PM Modi on August 24, 2016.

The report further stated that three members of the negotiating team – M.P. Singh, Adviser (Cost), A.R. Sule, Financial Manager (Air), and Rajeev Verma, Joint Secretary and Acquisitions Manager (Air) – had strongly objected to dropping the clauses, but were overruled.

Their dissent note said that the deal involved direct dealing with commercial suppliers – Dassault and MBDA France – under cover of an IGA and dropping the clauses was not prudent, The Hindu reported.

Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also attacked the BJP and said the “Rafale deal is unravelling faster than the government thought”.

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

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