New Delhi: Former Air Marshal SBP Sinha, who headed the negotiations from the Indian side in the Rafale aircraft deal, on Friday condemned attempts being made to malign the "excellent procurement" of the fighter planes that the government has initiated.
"There are attempts being made to malign the excellent procurement that the government of India has initiated to procure. It was very surprising for me to know that in the article printed today a note within the MoD has been used to malign this procurement by concealing facts," he told ANI.
He said that the note does not bear the remarks of the defence minister and hence, nobody knows what the defence minister had to say on this. "It was created by SK Sharma, who was not a part of the Indian negotiation team," he said.
The negotiation team chief said that the PMO never intervened in the negotiations, adding the letter itself is a clear proof of no intervention. "This letter never reached the negotiation team meetings or to me. It is not even mentioned in the minutes of the meeting which we recorded after each sitting got over," he said.
"There is no sovereign guarantee or bank guarantee then why is it being selectively targeted in this case. The government of France has already given a written assurance called the letter of comfort saying that they will sort out all problems that are there in this contract and that is what is expected out of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)," he said.
Sinha noted, "I can assure the nation that this is one of the finest procurements and one of the hardest negotiated deals wherein we have brought down the prices by 9% on the basic aircraft and further a very high amount on the overall deal."
Earlier in the day, the Centre dismissed a media report that claimed that Defence Ministry officials had raised concerns over the direct involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office in the Rafale deal and said that the report failed to publish the response of former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s note to the MoD over negotiations in the aircraft deal.
At a time when the government is facing backlash for not getting the sovereign guarantee from France in the Rafale jet deal, it is emerging that the then French prime minister had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that their government would fully back the obligations made by their firms in the contract....