Even as the Congress upped its ante and intensified its attack against the Narendra Modi government over Rafale deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has rubbished the latest media report, which said that the Defence Ministry had protested against PMO. Amid loud protests in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said that, “it is like flogging dead horse.” New report by ‘The Hindu’ quotes the dissent note by then defence ministry officials. ‘The Hindu’ report published the ‘note of dissent’ that was recorded on November 24, 2015 on a note prepared by SK Sharma, Deputy Secretary (Air-II), and endorsed by the Joint Secretary & Acquisition Manager (Air) and the Director General (Acquisition) in the Ministry. However, the then defence secretary G Mohan Kumar said that, “Defence Ministry’s dissent note had nothing to do with Rafale pricing.”
Questioning the intent of the report published by ‘The Hindu,’ Sitharaman said, “a newspaper published a file noting written by Defence Secretary. 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.”
The defence minister also said that by repeatedly raking the issue, the Congress is trying to provoke the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force against Modi government. “Then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ji replied to that MoD note that remain calm, nothing to worry, everything is going alright. Now, what do you call the NAC led by Sonia Gandhi's interference in earlier PMO? What was that,” asked Sitharaman.
Earlier, the Defence Minister had said that ever since the Modi government came to power, there was a conscious effort to keep middlemen at bay from the corridors of the Defence Ministry. “Between 2014 and today, in the purchases (in defence), including the ones done by Manohar Parrikar and Arun Jaitley, we deliberately not had any middleman coming into the corridors of South Block,” the Defence Minister said.
At a time when the Congress is accusing the Modi government of parallel negotiation and corporate war, Sitharaman had said, "You (Opposition) are misinforming the public and doing disservice to the country if you are becoming pawns in a corporate rivalry. Is India's interest at the top of your agenda or are you becoming a partner to some kind of corporate rivalry," she asked.