A new report by The Hindu claims that the NDA government let go off anti-corruption penalties and decided against paying off for the Rafale deal through escrow accounts just days before it was finalised via the inter-governmental agreement (IGA).
The report states that: "The €7.87-billion deal between India and France involved major and unprecedented concessions from the Indian government." Naturally, sharp political reactions have poured-in following the expose with the Opposition using every opportunity to nail the Centre on the reported irregularities in the deal that commissioned India 36 fighter jets.
The Congress party through its official Twitter handle directly asked the Prime Minister Office (PMO), "Who was it trying to shield?" by waiving the standard anti-corruption clauses. It further asked the PMO whom it was trying to benefit by paying for the deal "upfront in advance".
Throwing all good sense to the wind, the PMO also discarded the advice to create an escrow account under the control of the French Govt to release payments from India. Instead it chose to pay Dassault upfront in advance. Who was the PMO trying to benefit?#ChowkidarChorHai
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 11, 2019
Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi too lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that the stance of his government had changed from "zero tolerance" towards corruption to "full promotion of corruption".
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also once again criticised the Central government over the controversial deal as he pointed out to the various revelations that have been tumbling out of the closet. "The Rafale deal is unravelling faster than the government thought," Chidambaram tweeted.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari too hit out at the Modi government and said that even if the government gets a "clean-chit" post the submission of CAG's report on Monday, it will be "sans any credibility". He also raised questions on whether the CAG's credibility would remain intact post its tryst with the present government.
Whatever clean chit the C&AG may give the Govt. It will be sans any credibility after the Hindu expose today . I hope we do not start classifying C&AG’s into two categories- the fixers -2010 vintage & the cleaners -2019 vintage ? https://t.co/tukxWOc095
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) February 11, 2019
Mumbai Congress president and former MP Sanjay Nirupam shared The Hindu's report with the hashtag #ChaukidarChorHai, playing off the Opposition's Chowkidar jibe at Modi.
The Left also was quick to share the story and call out the government over it. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted: "We now know why Modi government is hiding behind non-existent 'secrecy' clauses, giving information in 'sealed covers' in Supreme Court, opposing a JPC and blocking information on Rafale deal. Extra money paid for the deal, PMO's parallel negotiations, favouring one crony businessman.." Yechury also raised questions about who the changes in the deal were meant to benefit.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan also alleged that the clauses were dropped and other changes made in the deal by the current government to "facilitate a loot".
However, national security analyst Nitin A Gokhale rebutted the allegations and in response tweeted his "first reaction" to the story wherein he s and the ‘standard contact document’ when required.
My first reaction to another Rafale story. Clearly the author has not read Para 71&72 of Defence Procurement Procedure, 2013 (see photo).The CNC and the Govt is authorised to not classically follow ‘standard procurement procedure’ and the ‘standard contact document’ when required pic.twitter.com/r2qdxRwGix
— Nitin A. Gokhale (@nitingokhale) February 11, 2019
Earlier on Friday, The Hindu had published an exclusive story on the PMO's "parallel negotiations" and the "interference" of the prime minister in the Rafale deal, and how the defence ministry "protested against PMO undermining the negotiations". The report had created a furore in political circles and led to the Opposition mounting further pressure on the government over the transparency of the deal.
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Updated Date: Feb 11, 2019 10:54:22 IST