The then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar being received by a naval commander
Former Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar has slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for making “rubbish statements”
Amid controversy over a Defence Ministry note apparently objecting to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) intervening in Rafale deal talks, former Defence Secretary in whose tenure the deal was signed has accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of “coming out with false details” and making “rubbish statements”.
Former Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, in an interview with the New Indian Express, said there were differences of opinion at every stage of discussion and it’s natural for each member in the committee to come out with divergent views. Kumar was the defence secretary when the deal to buy 36 Rafale jets was signed between India and France.
The fresh controversy erupted after The Hindu newspaper reported that the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to “parallel discussions” conducted by the PMO during negotiations for the Rs 59,000-crore fighter jet deal. The report, citing internal Defence Ministry file notes, was used by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and several other opposition leaders to raise questions on the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Kumar, the then Defence Secretary, wrote in the Defence Ministry file notes: “RM may pl. see. It is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously.”
1. ‘Rahul Gandhi Coming Out With False Details, Making Rubbish Statements’
In his interview with the daily, Kumar said, “I have no comments on politics. But it’s certain that Rahul Gandhi is coming out with false details on the deal. He is not supposed to make such rubbish statements and mislead the public.”
2. ‘Absolutely Wrong To Say PMO Was Conducting Parallel Negotiation’
On Friday, Kumar rejected the charge that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had held parallel negotiations. Kumar said the matter refers to sovereign guarantee and not the price. There were several unsettled issues that were being sorted out and sovereign guarantee was one of it, he said. “All the price negotiations were conducted by the committee,” Kumar asserted.
3. Dissent Note About Sovereign Guarantee, Not Pricing
Kumar said the Defence Ministry’s dissent note was over sovereign guarantee aspect of the negotiations in the Rafale fighter deal but it had nothing to do with pricing issue.
“It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions,” Kumar told ANI when asked if he remembered the context of the note.
“The context is there in the newspaper. Whatever has been brought out (in the newspaper), it has nothing to do with pricing. Negotiations are not just for pricing but other things also. It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions,” he elaborated.
4. Official Who Led Indian Negotiating Team Rejects Allegations
Air Marshal SBP Sinha (retd), who was leading the Indian negotiating team for the fighter jet purchase on Friday rejected charges levelled by the opposition on Rafale deal.
“There was no parallel negotiation and every word in the Intergovernmental Agreement is jointly decided by the Indian and the French negotiating teams without participation of any other agency,” Sinha who was one of the top Air Force officials leading the Indian negotiating team.
Referring to the note by Defence Ministry raising objections to “parallel discussions” conducted by the PMO, Sinha said the official who initiated it was not a part of the negotiating team and he had no “locus standi” to do so. Sinha added that he had seen the note for the first time in the media.
“None of us were aware of the note and neither was it discussed with the Indian negotiating team,” Sinha said.
5. Rahul Gandhi’s Charge Against Modi Govt
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi demanded answers to questions raised in the media report, saying it is now crystal clear that the “watchman” is the “thief”, an apparent reference to Modi’s alleged cronyism in the Rafale deal. Gandhi declared at a news conference that the Rafale deal was an “open and shut” case, citing the report claiming the Defence ministry raised strong objections to “parallel discussions” conducted by the PMO during the negotiations over the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.
“Now, it is crystal clear that the ministry itself has said, and I will read it to you, ‘It is therefore clear that the parallel discussions by the PMO has weakened the negotiation of the MOD and the Indian negotiating team. We may advise PMO that any officers who are not part of the negotiation team may refrain from having parallel parleys with the officer of the French government’,” Gandhi said.