Rahul leads Congress attack in the light of The Hindu’s report; CPI(M) wants the SC to revisit its ruling
The Congress led the Opposition parties in attacking the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal both in Parliament and outside following Monday’s report in The Hindu that crucial anti-corruption safeguards were dropped from the final agreement.
While Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the government had waived anti-corruption clauses to open the door for Anil Ambani to “steal” ₹30,000 crore, former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the deal was “unravelling faster than the government thought.”
In Parliament, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily led the charge and said that if anybody had to be held guilty in the deal, “it is the PM and PM alone.”
Fit case for Lokpal
During a discussion on the interim Budget, Mr. Moily said, “Now it is crystal clear why the Lokpal [law] is not being implemented. If it had been in place, the Prime Minister would have been number one accused.”
In an apparent reference to Mr. Modi’s comments about his “56-inch chest,” Mr. Moily said, “When the bullet of corruption is hit, his broad shoulders cannot bear it.”
The CPI(M) said that The Hindu report showed that the Prime Minister’s office was facilitating the loot of the exchequer, adding that the Supreme Court should revisit its ruling dismissing calls for an investigation.
“The PMO was conducting parallel negotiations keeping the official negotiating team in the dark. The PMO refused the suggestion of an escrow account. Not only was there no sovereign guarantee from the French government but it now appears that the PMO also batted for no bank guarantees. All this to facilitate the loot of the Indian exchequer by the Prime Minister’s crony capitalist friend,” the party’s Polit Bureau said in a statement.
BSP president Mayawati, a recent entrant to Twitter, tweeted: “Corruption & corrupt defence deal, No problem! Chowkidar is important for the BJP/RSS, not his honesty?” She then said, “People of the country have to decide what to do with the “Chowkidar and his so-called honesty.”
In a tweet tagging The Hindu’s report, Mr. Gandhi said, “NoMo anti-corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 Cr. from the IAF.”
He later referred twice to the media report — first in his speech at the day-long fast by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu which he attended as a gesture of solidarity with the TDP, and later during the Congress’ road show with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Lucknow.
“The Prime Minister became Prime Minister by saying he is going to fight corruption. Have you read The Hindu newspaper today, did you read The Hindu newspaper yesterday?… The Prime Minister has stolen from the people of Andhra Pradesh and he has given that money to Mr. Anil Ambani,” the Congress chief said.
Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in a series of tweets said the Rafale deal was “unravelling faster than the government thought”.
Pointing to the series reports in The Hindu, he said, “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.” 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.”
The Communist Party of India reiterated its demand for a probe by Joint Parliamentary panel in the light of the latest revelations.
“The Hindu story has brought the Rafale deal in perspective of how PMO took upon itself not only to negotiate the deal but also to facilitate it by removing critical clauses. The government stands thoroughly exposed. The entire truth of this deal can be brought out only if it is probed by a joint Parliamentary Committee,” CPI leader D. Raja said.
Trinamool Congress’s Saugata Roy said the new revelations on Rafale has exposed chinks in the government’s armour and it can no longer claim to be incorruptible.
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