In an article in The Hindu on February 08, 2019, journalist N. Ram has published a story titled Defence Ministry protested against PMO undermining Rafale negotiations. This article has been published by him after his previous, widely discredited article on Rafale about how Modi’s decision to buy 36 Rafales shot the price of each jet up by 41%. In the previous article, N Ram had contradicted himself on various counts.
As soon as this latest story was published in The Hindu, Congress President Rahul Gandhi spared no time in holding a press conference and attack the government on Rafale, and paint it as a ‘scam’ of Rs. 30,000 crores.
In his latest article, he has published a Defence Ministry’s internal note dated November 24, 2015. Ram contends that PMO undermined the Ministry of Defence in Rafale negotiations.
Here is the copy of internal note published in The Hindu
In the above note, Defence Secretary has noted on Rafale negotiations that “RM may pl. see. It is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating positions seriously”. However, a mere noting has been painted as a possible ‘scam’ by the Congress, based on Ram’s report.
However, the complete and in fact, true picture (literally) is something else. It appears that N Ram selectively furnished the incomplete internal note to drive a misleading narrative.
A cropped picture to paint a false picture.
According to the complete note accessed by the ANI, the same note also had the reply from the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to Defence Secretary’s noting.
Here is the complete internal note with Manohar Parrikar’s reply
“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. Defence Secretary (G Mohan) may resolve the matter in consultation with Principal Secretary to PM.”, Parrikar writes on the same page of the same note. However, this was completely missing from The Hindu’s report.
The above reply by the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar itself falsifies the misleading narrative of his ministry protesting against the PMO. PMO, it appears was monitoring the progress of the negotiations since there was, presumably, a summit in the offing.
If N Ram had the full note but published a truncated version of it to drive a false narrative, whose benefit was it for and why?
Moreover, the note itself says, disagreements, if any, were only about sovereign guarantees as opposed to letter of comfort, which is just a matter of technical importance and nothing to do with the price or any commercial favouritism.