Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday joined issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the question of middlemen in defence deals, saying they had been banned.
"We have already banned the role of middleman," Mukherjee asserted on the sidelines of a seminar in New Delhi on the defence procurement policy for 2006 (DPP-2006).
Manmohan Singh, while flying back home from Finland earlier in October, had expressed what many felt was a more pragmatic approach, saying the presence of middlemen would have to be accepted but a way found to "regulate" their activities.
However, Mukherjee thought differently.
"There is an integrity pact (in DPP-2006) that when a contract is being signed, the involvement of middlemen to influence the decision is banned," he maintained.
He also pointed out that the previous National Democratic Alliance had taken a decision to "register" arms dealers.
"I understand only a couple of names were registered but they were not very effective and there was not major response to that (scheme)," he added.