Amid govt’s claims on Rafale deal, yet another newspaper report comes out

Ever since the controversy over the Rafale deal erupted, most of the government’s firefighting has hinged on two key claims.

The first claim is that the new deal signed with France by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in was better than the Congress-era one and that it would get India the fighter jets faster.

But a report in a leading national daily says that at least three senior Defence Ministry officials among the seven-member Indian Negotiating Team strongly contested that view.

This is the latest in a series of stories published by the newspaper, arming the opposition, led by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress, with new attacks against the government.

Before that, it had reported on defence ministry objections to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The latest report cites the dissent note signed off by three domain experts on the Indian team – MP Singh, Adviser (Cost), a Joint Secretary-level officer from the Indian Cost Accounts Service;

AR Sule, Financial Manager (Air); and Rajeev Verma, Joint Secretary and Acquisitions Manager (Air).

The eight-page note was written more than a month after the team’s negotiations with the French side were completed and three months before the inter-governmental agreement was signed, on September 23, 2016. The deal had been announced by PM Modi during a visit to France in 2015.

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