Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday dismissed the media report released by The Hindu over Rafale deal and said that Congress was “flogging a dead horse.” She accused the newspaper of the biased reporting, saying it should have published Parrikar’s response as well. “Such selective noting and building an issue out of this is completely uncalled for,” said Sitharaman.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha said that the then defence minister “Manohar Parrikar ji replied to that MoD note. He said there was nothing to be worried about, everything is going alright. Now, what do you call the NAC led by Sonia Gandhi’s interference in earlier PMO? What was that?”
The media report released by The Hindu stated that the Defence Minister the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the PMO in the Rafale defence deal.
On the basis of The Hindu media report, Congress President Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused him of conducting parallel negotiations.
“With the media report today, it is black and white that the PM himself was carrying out parallel negotiations with the French. We have been saying there should be a JPC, an inquiry. Now the (then) minister himself has said it,” Gandhi said at a press briefing at AICC headquarters in New Delhi.
“PM Modi himself robbed Air Force’s Rs 30,000 crore and gave it to Anil Ambani, we have been raising this since 1 year. Now a report has come where Defence Ministry officials say that PM was holding parallel negotiations with France Govt,” said Rahul Gandhi.
However, the news agency ANI released the full version of the same letter released by The Hindu which omitted out the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s response while the full version of letter showsManohar Parrikar’s response in the end.
Air Marshal SBP Sinha, who was the former head of price negotiation committee in the Rafale deal said, “I can confirm that there was no interference in the price negotiations. The minutes of the meetings are available on record and whatever decisions were taken were arrived at by the negotiation committee collectively.”
Earlier after The Hindu media report, the Defence Ministry clarified in a dissent note that the negotiations which were made had nothing to do with Rafale pricing, it concerned sovereign guarantee aspect of the negotiations.
“It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions,” Former Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar said.
“The context is there in the newspaper. Whatever has been brought out (in the newspaper), it has nothing to do with pricing. Negotiations are not just for pricing but other things also. It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions,” he elaborated.