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Rafale: PMO above MOD, it can’t be called a parallel negotiation says Air Marshal Pandey

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New Delhi, Feb 08: There is a raging debate on the Rafale Deal yet again. This time it is about a report that stated that the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to the parallel negations by the Prime Minister's Office relating to the deal.

Air Marshal (Retd), B K Pandey

Citing a 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. This was brought to the attention of then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, the report also added.

Air Marshal (Retd), B K Pandey feels that the debate is a misleading one. He tells OneIndia that where is the question of a parallel debate. The PMO is above the Defence Ministry and hence one cannot call it a parallel negotiation, he says.

A parallel negotiation is when there are two organisations at the same level. The Defence Ministry has to follow suit of what the PMO does, he also adds.

Rafale: Politics aside, SC has protected national security, Air Marshal B K Pandey

The Prime Minister is the head of the country and if he is leading an effort, the MoD has to support the same. There is a certain hierarchy in governance and in this entire issue I dont see any parallel, he further adds. If an effort by the PMO is being questioned, then I see it as indiscipline on part of the bureaucracy, B K Pandey further states.

Amidst the negotiations over the Rafale deal between India and France, the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to parallel negotiations, a report in the The Hindu has claimed.

The report while citing official documents stated that the Defence Ministry had protested that the position taken by the PMO was contradictory to the stand taken by the MoD and the negotiating team. The then defence secretary, G Mohan Kumar made this official notation in his own hand in which it was stated, "RM may pl. see. It is desirable that such discussions be avoided by PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously," the report also said.

The Hindu report also makes note of the submissions that the government had made to the Supreme Court in October 2018. The government had said that the negotiations over the Rafale Deal were conducted by a seven member team headed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff. There was no mention of any role for the PMO in these negotiations.

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