Rafale Deal: Defense Ministry Protested Against 'Parallel Negotiations' By PMO, Reports The Hindu

| February 8 , 2019 , 11:44 IST

The Ministry of Defence in 2015 objected to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office with France when the two countries were negotiating the Rafale jet deal, The Hindu reported on Friday.

Referring to the Defence Ministry note dated November 24, 2017, the report also stated that it was clear that such parallel discussions by the PMO had “weakened the negotiating position of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian negotiating team.”

As per the reports of The Hindu note stated 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”.

It also suggested, “in case the PMO is not confident about the outcome of negotiations being carried out by the MoD, a revised modality of negotiations to be led by PMO at the appropriate level may be adopted in the case".

 It added, "Such parallel negotiations may be detrimental to our interests as the French side may take advantage of same by interpreting such discussions to their benefit and weakening the position taken by Indian Negotiating Team. This has precisely happened in this case."

A seven-member team headed by Air Marshal SBP Sinha, the deputy chief of Air Staff, had conducted the negotiations, according to the government’s submission to the Supreme Court in the matter in October. There was no mention of the role of the Prime Minister’s Office in the negotiations.

ALSO READ: ‘Don’t Shed Crocodile Tears For HAL’, Nirmala Sitharaman Attacks Congress Over The Rafale Deal

In the defense ministry note accessed by The Hindu, then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar noted that “it is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously”. The note was prepared by Deputy Secretary (Air-II) SK Sharma and endorsed by the ministry’s joint secretary and acquisition manager (air) and the director general (acquisition).

The Defence Ministry's internal note dated November 24, 2015, in facsimile.