Nirmala Sitharaman slams Rahul Gandhi and the Hindu over ‘dissent note’ controversy

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, slammed the Congress President, Rahul Gandhi for his press conference earlier in the day. Citing a recent media report, Rahul Gandhi on Friday morning had alleged that Prime Minister was personally involved in the Rafale deal.

The report in question was published by the Hindu, which featured an old letter written by erstwhile Defence secretary to erstwhile Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar. In the letter featured by the Hindu in its story, it was claimed that “interference by the PMO has weakened the negotiating position of the Ministry of Defence” in Rafale deal.

However, later news agency ANI, released an extended version of the same letter along with the reply to it by erstwhile Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar. The extended letter accessed by ANI, made it clear that Defence secretary’s concerns were about sovereign guarantee in the deal and not pricing of the fighter jets which has been the main subject of allegations levelled by Congress party.

Erstwhile Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar in his reply as accessed by ANI had assured the Defence secretary and asked him to keep calm. Parrikar had further termed Defence secretary’s remarks about PMO interference, in the 5th paragraph of his letter as “over reaction.”

Lashing out at both Rahul Gandhi and the media house, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ji replied to that MoD note that remains calm, nothing to worry, everything is going alright.”

“It was incumbent on the newspaper, the Hindu to put the reply of then Raksha Mantri Shri Parrikar on record too in its story but they omitted it,” the defence Minister further said.

Shortly after the Congress’ press conference, G Mohan Kumar, who was the defence secretary of India at the time of negotiations for the Rafale defence deal, said that the dissent note cited in the media report has “nothing to do with the the pricing of the aircraft”.

“It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.