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Rafale issue: Sitharaman terms news item 'distorted', wonders if doubts are being created deliberately

ANI  |  Politics 

New Delhi, Feb 8 (ANI) A combative Defence on Friday termed as "incomplete" and "distorted" the news item published by a newspaper about "parallel negotiations" by the fighter deal and wondered whether "doubts" were being deliberated created in the minds of people because of some "corporate warfare".

In an exclusive interview to ANI here, Sitharaman slammed for constantly raising questions over the deal, equating him to a "parrot" and asked what "moral authority" he has to do so when he, along with his mother and are on bail.

She asserted that it is the duty of the to monitor progress in any deal or project and if the PMO checks on these, it cannot be termed as "interference".

Referring to the news item which appeared in a newspaper on Friday, Sitharaman alleged that it was "half truth, with the intention ... to create doubt in the minds of the reader."

The questioned whether it was not the "responsibility" of the to try to get complete details or get response from the ministry before publishing the item.

Even if there was no response, an attempt could have been made, she added.

She said that while publishing the file notings of an of the Defence Ministry, the should have looked for the response of the

"But what they have done in publishing the item is not a complete job," Sitharaman said.

She said it was her "suspicion and I have reason to suspect" that publication of the news item was "an attempt by some people, either by doing themselves, or whether because of corporate warfare that is going on."

Rejecting the contention about "interference" by the PMO, the said any PMO, not just under Narendra Modi, would "naturally monitor" the progress of any deal or even programmes like Ayushman Bharat.

"The is the first among equals (in a Cabinet) and if PMO checks on a ministry, it is not interference.... If the PMO is asking what is the status (of a project), it is not interference," Sitharaman underlined.

She then went on to attack the Congress, questioning the role of Advisory Council (NAC) headed by when was the

"If this (PMO asking about progress of a project) is seen as interference, I ask the Congress, what was the NAC under ... What was its role? They were not under PMO or .. Did it have any statutory status.... It was remote-controlling the PM. Was it not interference?"

To a question, he equated Gandhi to a "parrot" which keeps repeating something and said "You can wake up someone who is sleeping but not someone who pretends to sleep."

Targeting Gandhi, she asked, "Why is he on bail? Why is his mother on bail? Why is his on bail? How has he moral authority to question the PM?"

Referring to the President's press conference held this morning, Sitharaman said, "See how he is provoking the armed forces.... What was his language at the press conference. Nobody asked him what kind of language are you using? ... Are you provoking the armed forces?"

She said Modi monitors projects even at district level, earlier as and now as Prime Minister.

"Otherwise, you think progress could have been made at this speed, without corruption, without middlemen? ...He monitors and ensures implementation of decisions," Sitharaman said.

Asked whether she, as Defence Minister, was worried as letters about deal were getting leaked.

In response, she said, "I am not worried about Rafale or any other decision we have taken, because we have gone on merit... But through selective leaking, distorted versions, false impression is created.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 08 2019. 21:02 IST