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“The Hindu report is an effort to malign the Rafale Deal”, says Air Marshal SBP Sinha, head of Indian Negotiation Team

Air Marshal SBP Sinha, who headed the Indian Negotiation Team in Rafale deal said that said that SK Sharma, Deputy Secretary (Air-II), who wrote the dissent note, was not part of the team

Air Marshal SBP Sinha, who had headed the Indian Negotiation Team (INT) for the Rafale deal has expressed his surprise over The Hindu’s story on Rafale and termed it as an effort to malign this procurement by concealing facts.

Air Marshal SBP Sinha also said that SK Sharma, Deputy Secretary (Air-II), who wrote the dissent note, was not part of the Indian negotiation team. ‘On whose behest he initiated this note?’, the head of IMT asked.

The Indian Negotiating Team (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. Therefore, it is surprising why the Deputy Secretary (Air-II) would get involved in the process when the officer was not part of the team negotiating the deal.

“This is an internal noting. It was written by Deputy Secretary SK Sharma from Air II who was not a part of the Indian Negotiation Team. The note has nothing to do with the Indian Negotiation Team. The Joint Secretary and Aquisition Manager Air forwarded it despite being part of the Indian Negotiation Team and did not notify the team. This note was killed in MoD,” said Retd. Air Marshal SBP Sinha.

Referring to the Hindu’s Rafale story, he said that the article was an attempt to malign the negotiation that happened for the procurement of the 36 Rafale jets by concealing facts. He said that the note was an internal matter and had nothing to do with the Indian negotiation team that he headed.

“It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions. The context is there in the newspaper. Whatever has been brought out (in the newspaper), it has nothing to do with pricing. Negotiations are not just for pricing but other things also. It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions,” Kumar told the media when asked if he remembered the context of the note.

In a hurry to target the Narendra Modi government, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had used the half-truth reported by the Hindu and had 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.

However, that report had failed to mention anywhere that the supposed negotiations carried out by the PMO had nothing to do with money or offset deal with Reliance. Following this, 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 the price”. Kumar further clarified that whatever is mentioned in The Hindu report has nothing to do with pricing at all.

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