This has reference to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) internal note dated November 24, 2015, that has surfaced in the media clearly evidencing the fact that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had conducted parallel negotiations in the murky Rafale deal, thereby weakening the negotiating position of the MoD and the team. The MoD had also objected to this high-handedness of the PMO and had alerted the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who it appears was helpless in this matter.
By derailing the negotiations conducted by the MoD, the PMO represented by Joint Secretary to PM Jawed Ashraf and the National SecurityAdviser Ajit Doval appears to have facilitated the entry of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as the offset partner in the deal. Moreover, it is a wonder why the PMO had diluted the terms and conditions proposed by the MoD and agreed to accept just a letter of comfort to cover proper implementation of the supply protocol by industrial suppliers, instead of a 100 per cent secure sovereign or government guarantee or a bank guarantee as rightly proposed by the MoD in their negotiations.
Looking at the sequences of the happening, one really wonders whether the above dilution of security was an internal barter deal to make the French dealer accept the inexperienced and debt-laden Reliance Defence as an offset partner. With the latest revelation, Rahul Gandhi stands vindicated of his allegations against the government in the Rafale deal and his demand for a thorough probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the dubious deal sounds reasonable.
Tharcius S Fernando Chennai
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