New Delhi: According to 2015 note accessed by The Hindu, the Defence Ministry expressed strong reservations to the “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office with France on Rafale fighter jet deal.
The note provides information to the opposition which has attacked government, accusing PM Modi of signing an overpriced deal for 36 Rafale jets to help journalist Anil Ambani.
The note, dated November 24 2015 – was reportedly brought to the attention of then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Parrikar said the position taken by the PMO was “contradictory to the stand taken by Defence Ministry and the negotiating team.”
Then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar had prepared the note which further states that “it is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously.”
It continues to state that “we may advise PMO that any Officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays [parleys] with the officers of French Government”.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly targeted PM Modi over the claims about the defence ministry’s objection to the Rafale deal.
"Congress President @RahulGandhi had a simple question for you in Parliament Modiji, you chickened out and didn't answer, did the defence ministry oppose your Rafale deal? Looks like we have the answer now... ," the Congress tweeted on Friday, citing The Hindu report.
The controversial Rafale deal was announced in 2016 after PM Modi’s talks with then French president Francois Hollande.
The opposition claims that the government had finalised an overpriced deal to benefit Anil Ambani, whose firm Reliance Defence was recommended as an offset partner for Dassault despite lacking experience.
Dassault is the company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft.
However, both Dassault and the government have denied the allegations.
The allegations were strengthened after Francois Hollande, in an interview last year, said that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani's company for the offset clause.