In 2015, the Defence Ministry had raised it’s objections to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with the French side, the Hindu reported on Friday.
According to a note by Defence Minister dated November 24, 2015, shared in the report, it was stated that “such parallel discussions by the PMO has weakened the negotiating position of MoD and Indian Negotiating Team”.
As per the report of the daily, the Defence Ministry note advising PMO read “that any Officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays with the officers of French Government”, the note added, “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”.
Going by the report, In a previous point, the note stated, “the discussions between Diplomatic Adviser to the French Defence Minister and Joint Secretary to PM tantamount to parallel negotiations while the Indian Negotiating Team constituted by the Ministry of Defence is undertaking the process of formal negotiations with the French side.” it further read, “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.”
Following the release of the report, the then defence secretary G Mohan Kumar, who wrote, “RM may pl. see. It is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously.” at the end of the note was quoted by news agency ANI saying, “It (MoD dissent note on Rafale negotiations) had nothing to do with price. It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions”.
While after Rahul Gandhi conducted a press meet and citing the report alleged that “PM stole 30,000 crore of public money”. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman commented on the report, saying, “If a newspaper publishes a noting then the ethics of journalism will demand that the newspaper publishes the then Defence Minister’s reply as well.”