Rafale deal: Defence Minister 2015 note on PMO’s role kicks up row

0
44

Rafale deal: Defence Minister 2015 note on PMO's role kicks up rowNEW DELHI: Fresh controversy erupted over the Rafale deal with the BJP and the Congress trading charges on a leaked government note of November 2015 in which the then defence secretary G Mohan Kumar had alleged that “parallel negotiations” and “direct discussions” by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had undermined the negotiating position of India.

When contacted by ET, Kumar downplayed the note, called it a “good deal”. He said these issues were flagged off to the defence minister and settled. “There was absolutely no interference in the core areas of the contract, like finance or pricing. This is reading too much into the note… a lot of little things like this got settled as the negotiations went ahead,” he told ET.

The former defence secretary also said that the point raised in his note to the minister was being “unnecessarily exaggerated” and that “half truths” were being moved around.

1

However, in his note, which was published by The Hindu on Friday, Kumar wrote: “RM (Raksha Mantri) may please see. It is desirable that such discussions be avoided by PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously.”

He was referring to an internal note endorsed by then DG (Acquisition) Asha Ram Sihag who had taken strong objection to PMO joint secretary Jawed Ashraf’s conversation with the French President’s Diplomatic Adviser on the issue of considering a Letter of Comfort instead of a sovereign guarantee for this government-to-government deal.