Rafale row rages. Meanwhile: How NEAT is Manohar Parrikar's handwriting?
Cursive font. Sentences so perfectly stacked you wonder if a ruler was involved. No strikethroughs. No smudged ink.
A written reply by Manohar Parrikar to India's defence secretary in 2015, accessed by ANI, would put any schoolteacher's pet to shame.
Now, here's what he wrote:
"It appears that the PMO and the 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 [Defence Secretary] may resolve issue/matter in consultation with Pr Sec to PM."
Ask what the message was about, and we're entering more political territory.
Let's start at the beginning. A report by The Hindu newspaper said the Defence Ministry objected in 2015 to the Prime Minister's Office conducting a "parallel" negotiation in the deal for French Rafale jets. The Congress, naturally, pounced on the news with glee.
There was a handwritten message for Manohar Parrikar, who was then the defence minister, below printed text in the Defence Ministry's note. It was from the defence secretary and it asked Parrikar that "such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously".
The Hindu article does not mention Parrikar's reply -- the passage you see below (marked in red) -- which says a paragraph about India's negotiation position being weakened appears to an overreaction.
Nirmala Sitharaman, the current defence minister, took the newspaper to task in Parliament as she pointed out that Parrikar's reply should have been included in the article.
Not that the Congress seems to care. Having accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi for months of crony capitalism in the Rafale deal, it's now tweeting with #PakdaGayaModi.