‘Over reaction’, wrote Manohar Parrikar on ministry note on PMO role in Rafale deal
The ongoing back and forth between the Congress and the government over the estimated Rs 58,000 crore deal to buy 36 combat jets from France took a new turn with a newspaper report on Friday citing a November 24, 2015 note of the defence ministry.Updated: Feb 08, 2019 14:28 IST
Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had termed as ‘over reaction’ his ministry’s note objecting to “parallel parleys” by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with the French authorities in the controversial Rafale deal, reports ANI.
The ongoing back and forth between the Congress and the government over the estimated Rs 58,000 crore deal to buy 36 combat jets from France took a new turn with a newspaper report on Friday citing a November 24, 2015 note of the defence ministry, which said that parallel discussions by the PMO “weakened the negotiating position of the MoD and Indian Negotiating Team.”
The note further added, according to the report, “We may advise the PMO that any officers, who are not part of the Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays (parleys) with the officers of the French government.”
In the note, tweeted by the ANI, defence minister Manohar Parrikar recorded: “It appears the PMO and the French President’s office are monitoring the progress of the issue which was an outcome of the summit meeting. Para 5 appears to be an over reaction.”
ANI accesses the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s reply to MoD dissent note on #Rafale negotiations."It appears PMO and French President office are monitoring the progress of the issue which was an outcome of the summit meeting. Para 5 appears to be an over reaction" pic.twitter.com/3dbGB9xF4Z— ANI (@ANI) February 8, 2019
Para 5 here refers to the last para in the note that mentions ‘parallel parleys’.
Parrikar goes on to write that the defence secretary may resolve the issue in consultation with principal secretary to the Prime Minister.
In her suo motu statement in Lok Sabha on the newspaper report, defence minister Nirmala Sitharamanquestioned the “journalistic ethics” of the newspaper that published a defence ministry note “selectively”. She said, “A newspaper published a file noting written by Defence Secretary. If a newspaper publishes a noting then the ethics of journalism will demand that the newspaper publishes the then Defence Minister’s reply as well.”
She said raising the Rafale deal issue on the basis of a media report is “flogging a dead horse.” She accused the opposition parties of playing into the hands of multinational companies and vested interests.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has been at the forefront of a campaign against the Modi-led government over the Rafale deal, earlier held a press conference tearing into the Prime Minister.
Reading out portions of the note Gandhi said it has confirmed “what we have been saying for a year”. He said it is “crystal clear” that PM Modi bypassed the defence ministry in signing Rafale deal.
Gandhi repeated his charge against PM Modi saying, “Chowkidar chor hai (the watchman is a thief.”
In her response, Sitharaman also objected to the “language” used by Gandhi. “I honestly expected more from the Congress party,” she said.
First Published: Feb 08, 2019 14:27 IST