Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday trained his guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a report published by a daily stated that the government removed the anti-corruption clause from the Rafale fighter jet defence deal.

“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,” Gandhi told reporters outside the Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi where he came to support Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s protest against the Centre.

“NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 crore from the IAF,” Gandhi tweeted from his official handle using his “chowkidaar chor hai” jibe at the PM.

 

PM Modi, Loot, Rafale deal, Rahul Gandhi, Chidambaram
(Photo: Twitter/@RahulGandhi)

 

The report, published by The Hindu, stated that just days before it signed the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale fighter jets, the Centre had waived off critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties as well as overruled financial advisers’ recommendations for making payments through an escrow account.

An escrow account is an account held by a third party on behalf of two other parties that are in the process of completing a transaction.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, too, took to Twitter on Monday to slam the government on the Rafale deal.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said that 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 wrote.

“Now it is revealed that crucial changes were made to the clauses in the standard Defence Procurement Procedure. No sovereign guarantee, no bank guarantee, no escrow account, yet a huge amount was paid as advance,” he said referring to the latest The Hindu report.

“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,” Chidambaram concluded.

 

According to the report, after IGA and associated documents had been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by PM Modi on 24 August 2016, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had in September 2016 “ratified and approved” changes in them.

The report said that three members of the negotiating team who dissented to the direct dealing with commercial suppliers under IGA cover were MP Singh, Adviser (Cost); AR Sule, Financial Manager (Air); and Rajeev Verma, Joint Secretary and Acquisitions Manager (Air). Their objections were overruled.