Monday, 11 Feb, 7.50 am National Herald

Congress: Corruption led to dropping of anti-corruption clauses from Rafale agreement

Reacting to the news revelations over controversial Rafale deal, Congress leader Manish Tewari on Monday said that The Hindu's report has absolutely debunked all the claims of Modi Government.

He said, "we want to raise a very fundamental question today. Why would the NDA-BJP Government waive the anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal? Once again, let me reiterate the question - why would the NDA-BJP Government waive the anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal and the answer is very simple, because there has been corruption in the Rafale deal."

He drew attention at the sequence of the events regarding the Rafale deal. on the August 24, 2016, the Cabinet Committee on security chaired by the Prime Minister of India approved the inter-governmental agreement along with its related annexure and other papers. But in September 2016, the Defence Acquisition Council overrode the Cabinet Committee on Security - something which is unprecedented and amended eight vital clauses of the Rafale Fighter deal. Among these clauses were the mandatory anti-corruption articles which are considered an integral part of the Defence Procurement.

Manish Tewari then asked what occurred in just a period of one month, from August 24 to September 23, which transpired these changes? The nation needs to understand in some detail what are the implications of this action of the NDA-BJP Government, he said.

Elaborating upon what dropping the anti-corruption clauses mean, he said, it provided a kind of a protection to Dassault that the deal will not get cancelled even if tomorrow any evidence of any malfeasance or alleged corruption is found.

"A sovereign guarantee and escrow account is thrown by the wayside. It is replaced by a Comfort Letter. Now which Government would not want to secure the advances that it has paid? Why would it settle for a Comfort Letter when sovereign bank guarantees or the escrow account is the standard operating procedure adopted by the Government of India in every other transaction? Why would the implementing court or an arbitration award be changed. Why would the PMO conduct parallel negotiations at its highest echelons undermining its own Defence Ministry?" He asked saying that apparently the negotiations were being driven by Dassault and MBDA and not by the government of India.

Highlighting these facts, the Congress leader said that if the CAG report, which is being tabled on Tuesday does not take all these points into consideration which have already been highlighted by The Hindu reports then the CAG report will not hold much importance.

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