A fresh media report on the then defence secretary objecting to the Prime Minister’s Office engaging in the Rafale jet deal negotiations triggered a major attack by the opposition on PM Narendra Modi besides protests, heated exchanges and adjournments of both houses of Parliament. Congress president Rahul Gandhi was quick to claim that then defence secretary G Mohan Kumar’s file-noting in November 2015 had established that the PM carried out “parallel negotiations” on the deal. “We have been saying that the PM is directly involved in the Rafale scam. Now, with today’s media, it is in black and white that the PM himself was carrying out a parallel negotiation with the French,” Gandhi said at a press conference here on Friday. “The parallel discussions by the PMO weakened the position of the ministry of defence and the Indian negotiating team.”
Gandhi also referred to the SC’s December 14 verdict, which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal to acquire 36 Rafale jets. “If the SC had this paper work (defence secretary’s file-noting), do you think it would have given the judgment that they gave? This was withheld from the SC, of course. The judgment is also in question, now,” Gandhi said. Maintaining that he had no problem with investigating agencies questioning his brother-in-law Robert Vadra and P Chidambaram, Gandhi asked, “Why can’t the PM at least allow an inquiry into Rafale?” Addressing the youth, especially members of the armed forces, Gandhi said: “This is about your future. You defend us, you protect us, you fight for us, you die for us.
And here it is clear that the PM has stolen Rs 30,000 cr of your money, bypassed the process and given it to his friend Anil Ambani. We have been saying that there should be a JPC, there should be an enquiry.” Asked about Modi’s comment on Thursday that the “thief is blaming the chowkidar,” Gandhi quipped, “Was the PM talking about himself? He has got two personalities, of chor and chowkidar.” On the government’s assertion that the then defence minister had differed with the then defence secretary, AICC spokesperson Manish Tewari contended that through his noting, “Manohar Parrikar clearly washed his hands off the Rafale deal in order to put the entire onus on the PM.”