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Rafale: Sitharaman dubs newspaper report on dissent note as "Half Truth"

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New Delhi, Feb 8: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the newspaper report which stated that the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to the parallel negations by the PMO related to the Rafale deal have not done a complete job.

File photo of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

In an interview to ANI, Sitharam said the ethics of journalism will demand that the newspaper publishes the then Defence Minister's reply as well.

"Is it not responsibility of a journalist to search for next before publishing? Or at least say we tried getting answer from the ministry,they did not respond and therefore, they are only publishing this much. They have published half truth," she told ANI.

Citing a Defence Ministry note dated November 24 2017, the report published in newspaper The Hindu 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.

"Newspaper that published the five notings of the then Defence Secretary, they have not done a complete job. The nature of what they are revealing demands that they look for further information in this case," Sitharaman said.

[Rafale deal: Defence Ministry's dissent note had nothing to do with pricing, clarifies ex-secy]

"If PMO pursues a matter saying what is the progress? How far is it happening? Is it happening here? Is it happening in France? Are you all moving forward? That cannot be construed as interference at all," Sitharaman added.

Sitharaman earlier today issued a statement in Lok Sabha to counter Rahul Gandhi's Rafale charges, and accused 'The Hindu' of biased reporting, saying it should have published Parrikar's response as well.

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

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said,'' If the newspaper wanted to bring out the truth, they would have approached the defence ministry and done a thorough check. They would also have approached the then Raksha Mantri (Parrikar) for his views on it. The said paper has gone ahead and published a report without any facts to back it. They are flogging a dead horse. Every question on Rafale has been answered thoroughly and transparently... not just here in the House, but also in court.''

Launching a fresh attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale, Congress President Rahul Gandhi earlier today accused the prime minister of running "parallel negotiations" with the French side. "For more than a year, we've been saying that PM is directly involved in Rafale scam. Today it is clear that PM himself had been carrying out a parallel negotiation with the French," Mr Gandhi said at a press briefing in New Delhi.

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