The defence ministry had raised strong objection to the "parallel negotiations" conducted by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) with France in 2015, when the two countries were discussing the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal, reports The Hindu.
In a note dated November 24, 2015, senior ministry officials had told Manohar Parrikar, former defence minister and Goa chief minister, that the parallel negotiations done by the PMO had "weakened the negotiating position of MoD [the Ministry of Defence] and Indian negotiating team", the rpeort says.
The defence ministry note was prepared by Deputy Secretary (Air-II) SK Sharma and endorsed by several officials of the ministry. The report revealed that Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar had advised the PMO to avoid such discussions with the French government officials, which would undermine India's negotiating position. The ministry recommended that "in case the PMO is not confident about the outcome of negotiations being carried out by the MoD, a revised modality of negotiations to be led by PMO at the appropriate level may be adopted".
According to the government's submission to the Supreme Court in October last year, a seven-member team headed by Air Marshal SBP Sinha, the deputy chief of Air Staff, had conducted the negotiations. There was no mention of the role of the PMO in the negotiations. Mohan Kumar reacted to the report published by The Hindu, telling ANI that the note had nothing to do with the fighter jets price as part of the deal. "It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions. The Opposition parties have accused the Modi government of getting an overpriced deal," he said.
Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar's reply to MoD dissent note on Rafale negotiations was accessed by ANI. The statement read: "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 overreaction. Defence Secretary (G Mohan) may resolve the matter in consultation with Principal Secretary to PM"
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
Congress has slammed the Modi government saying it helped Anil Ambani to land an offset contract with Dassault, even when he had no prior experience in the defence sector.
"DM @nsitharaman too lied. Former French President has admitted that he was made to choose Anil Ambani by PM Modi himself: Congress President @RahulGandhi #PakdaGayaModi", Congress tweeted. Rahul Gandhi said it has now become clear that Narendra Modi had carried out parallel negotiations with France, and accused him of lying to the country.