The report on the Rafale deal on The Hindu, armed with which Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had organised a press conference slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appears to have produced an internal communication between the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the defence ministry only in part.
What appears to be the full version of the letter alleges that the defence ministry was in the know about the PMO's involvement in the Rafale deal. However, it does not rule out the PMO's controversial involvement in the negotiations over the fighter jets, as Congress chief Rahul Gandhi pointed out in his press conference.
The newspaper had produced a note dated 24 November, 2015, in facsimile. In the portion of the note published, Deputy Secretary (Air-II) SK Sharma can be seen having objected to parallel discussions on the Rafale deal between the PMO and the French side. Such parallel discussions, said the letter, have "weakened the negotiating position of Ministry of Defence and the Indian Negotiating Team."
Director general of acquisitions, AR Sinag, on the same date, sent the file for approval by the defence secretary.
In an added note, dated 1 December, 2015, then defence secretary G Mohan Kumar says, it is "desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously."
However, in the version of the letter produced in The Hindu, a note that the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar wrote below appears to have been cut off.
In the full version of the letter, which has been published on Twitter by ANI, Parrikar wrote another note at the bottom of the last sheet, ostensibly on 11 January, 2016. "It appears that PMO and 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 overreaction. Def sec may resolve issue/matter in consultation with Pr. Sec to PM," Parrikar seems to have written.
Both letters are produced side by side below.
Citing the report earlier on Friday, Rahul had said, "Now, it is clear that the prime minister has stolen Rs 30,000 crore of your money and given it to his friend Anil Ambani. It is an open and shut case. The defence ministry has said this itself that the prime minister has interfered."
Meanwhile, G Mohan Kumar has said the dissent note had nothing to do with price. "It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions," he told ANI.
Updated Date: Feb 08, 2019 15:19:08 IST