Half-truths and full-lies: How Rahul Gandhi lies (again!) on Rafale to create a false narrative

Congress President Rahul Gandhi in his most recent allegations against the Rafale Deal has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was running ‘parallel negotiations’ based on an internal report of the Ministry of Defense. He then went on to claim that it was ‘evidence’ of the fact that Modi stole Rs. 30,000 crores and gave it to Anil Ambani.

The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty was speaking of revelations made in a report by The Hindu which claimed that MoD officials had registered a firm opposition with the PMO’s negotiations on the matter. However, even that report does not mention anywhere that the supposed negotiations carried out by the PMO had anything to do with money or offset deal with Reliance. The nature of the supposed negotiations was not revealed either.

Armed with the media report, Rahul Gandhi then proceeded to claim that the French President called Prime Minister Modi a ‘thief’.

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Now, G Mohan Kumar, Defence Secretary at the time of the Rafale negotiations, has come out and said that the ‘dissent note’ had “nothing to do with price”. He said, “It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions”.

Kumar further clarified that whatever is mentioned in The Hindu report has nothing to do with pricing at all.

Replying to the allegations, current defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Parliament that then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had already replied to the dissent note by the Defence Secretary, assuring that everything was going alright and there was nothing to worry.

In fact, the then defence minister had replied to the dissent on the note itself, which can be seen in the full page published by ANI.

It is interesting to note that, while publishing the dissent note, The Hindu chose the crop the same, omitting the vital note of the defence minister at the bottom of the note. Responding to the apprehension by the secretary, Parrikar writes, “It appears PMO and French President office are monitoring the progress of the issue which was an outcome of the summit meeting. Para 5 appears to be an over reaction”. The Defence Minister clearly states that both PMO and French President offices were monitoring the government to government deal, and the comments of the secretary is an overreaction.

It is also important to note that the dissent note by Deputy Secretary (Air-II) in the Defence Ministry, as reported by The Hindu, was raised on November 24, 2015. It was during the time both Indian and French sides were involved in discussions over the deal. In any discussion, arguments, disagreements are inevitable, what matters is the final decision, not the debates involved in coming to that discussion.

Lets that a look at the timeline of the deal. India and France issued a joint statement announcing the deal to supply 36 Rafale aircraft in flyway condition on April 10, 2015. After this, the proposal was sent to Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on 13th May 2015 for approval, as per the provisions of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). DAC is chaired by the Defence Minister, and members include the State ministers for Defence, the three chiefs of staff, defence secretary, Secretary of Dept. of Defence Production and Supplies, Secretary of Defence Research and Development, Secretary of Defence Finance, and Special Secretary (Acquisition). DAC functions under the defence ministry and it has the final say on any defence related purchase.

After initial announcement of the deal, an Indian Negotiating Team (INT) was constituted by the government to negotiate the terms and conditions of the deal with the French side. The INT was headed by Deputy Chief of the Air Staff of Indian Air Force, and it included Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager (Air), Joint secretary (Defence Offset Management Wing), Joint Secretary and Additional Financial Advisor, Finance Manager (Air), Advisor (Cost) and Assistance Chief of Air Staff (Plans) as members.

The Deputy Secretary (Air-II), who wrote the dissent note, is neither a part of DAC nor a part of INT.

The INT was involved in as many as 74 meetings for the deal. This included 48 internal meetings of the team and 26 external meetings with the French counterpart. These meetings took place between May 2015 and April 2016. Working under the directions of DAC, the INT had negotiated and finalised various terms and conditions related to price, delivery and maintenance of the Rafale aircraft. The INT had submitted its report in August 2016, and the same was approved by the Cabinet Committee of Security in the same month. After the approval of CCS, the Inter Government Agreement was signed by the Defence Minister on 23rd September 2016. Therefore, the Defence Ministry was fully involved in the negotiations for the Rafale deal.

On an earlier occasion, when Rahul Gandhi had quoted the French President, the French government had to come out and issue a clarification which essentially stated that Rahul lied on the Floor of the Lok Sabha.

Rahul Gandhi has been on a lying spree over the Rafale Deal, often repeating his lies over and over again in the hope that one of them will stick given the fact that he has the support from the ‘pliant media’.

Yesterday, in his address in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Modi targeted the Congress party over the matter and said that the party committed criminal negligence and undermined the defence preparedness of our armed forces due to vested interests.


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