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PM 'opened door' for Ambani to steal: Rahul

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The on Monday cited a media report claiming that the government waived anti-corruption clauses in the deal to call for a probe into "who paid whom", with alleging that "opened the door" to allow industrialist to "steal" Rs 30,000 crore from the

The all-out attack on the government came after a report in newspaper claimed the deal between and involved "and unprecedented" concessions from the Modi dispensation, with critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties and making payments through an escrow account dropped days before the signing of the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).

"NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow to steal 30,000 Cr. from the IAF (sic)," Gandhi tweeted, tagging the report.

The government, as well as Ambani, whose company is offset partner under the deal, have strongly refuted allegations of any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with

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

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

Speaking at Chandrababu Naidu's day-long fast at the Andhra Bhavan here, he alleged that Modi had "stolen" from the people of the state and given the money to industrialist Ambani.

"became Prime Minister by saying, he is going to fight corruption. Have you read newspaper today...has stolen from the people of and he has given that money to Mr. Anil Ambani, that is the fact of the matter," he said.

Later, Manish Tewari, at a press conference, said the Congress wants to raise the fundamental question why the BJP-led NDA government waived the anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal.

The answer is very simple because there has been corruption in the Rafale deal, he said.

Tewari said the implications of the action of alleged waiving of the anti-corruption clauses in the deal meant that the French, especially the suppliers --- Dassault and missile-maker MBDA -- were indemnified.

"Essentially, what it means is that those who essentially paid, through whom the transactions were routed, and the end beneficiaries, get fully indemnified...Government doesn't have the legal locus to cancel the contract," he claimed.

Dassault and MBDA were in the "driver's seat" in the Rafale deal negotiations and not the government of India, he alleged.

"One thing is emerging clearly, which requires investigation, which requires a joint parliamentary committee (probe), that somebody has paid somebody in the fighter Rafale procurement," Tewari said.

"We would again like to emphasise that if these very very overt acts of malfeasance...if the (CAG) report ignores it, because we believe that the CAG report is being tabled tomorrow, then that report will not be worth the paper it is written on," he said.

On August 24, 2016, the approved the inter-governmental agreement, while in September, 2016, the defence acquisition council overrode the and amended eight vital clauses of the fighter jet deal, Tewari alleged.

"The moot question is what happened between August 24, 2016, and September 23, 2016, what transpired in those 30 days. Who paid whom in those 30 days that led to the dropping of the anti-corruption clauses from the Rafale agreement," he asked.

Earlier, senior Congress and former minister P Chidambaram said the Rafale deal is unravelling faster than the government thought.

"First, it was the loading of the 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 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 "

Citing the media report, Congress's 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?(sic)"

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

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 18:45 IST