Almost 10 months before India and France inked the final agreement to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft in September 2016, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had objected to parallel discussions conducted by the Prime Minister s Office with Paris saying this weakened the negotiating position of MoD and Indian Negotiating Team .
According to a report Friday in The Hindu, a Defence Ministry note dated November 24, 2015, flagged the PMO s discussions to then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar. In the note, Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar wrote: RM may pl see. It is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously. RM was a reference to Raksha Mantri.
Kumar was responding to a note by Deputy Secretary (Air-II) S K Sharma, who wrote: We may advise PMO that any Officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays (parleys) with the officers of French Government. In case the PMO is not confident about the outcome of negotiations being carried out by the MoD, a revised modality of negotiations to be led by PMO at appropriate level may be adopted in the case.
To these concerns of the MoD, Parrikar wrote: It appears that PMO and French president s office are monitoring the progress of the issue which was an outcome of the summit meeting. Para 5 appears to be an overreaction. Def Sec may resolve issue/matter in consultations with Pr. Sec to P.M. Para 5 was a reference to Sharma s note. Parrikar s noting was put out by ANI.