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MoD’s dissent note on Rafale had nothing to do with its pricing: Ex-Defence Secretary

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NEW DELHI: A senior official of the Defence Ministry (MoD), who had earlier written a dissent note over Prime Minister’s alleged interference in the Rafale fighter jet deal negotiations with France, sought to downplay the issue on Friday, saying, it had nothing to do with its pricing.

”It (the dissent note from MoD on Rafale negotiations) had nothing to do with price. It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions,” G Mohan Kumar, Defence Secretary at the time of Rafale negotiations was quoted as saying by ANI.

Whatever has been brought out (recent media report on Rafale negotiations) has nothing to do with pricing, G Mohan Kumar added.

 

The clarification from the senior Defence Ministry official came in the backdrop of reports which said that the (MoD) expressed its strong reservations to the “parallel negotiations” conducted by the PMO with France on the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighet jet deal.

A leading media house had published a report in this regard citing a 2015 note accessed by it.

The publication of the story about the damning dissent note had provided fresh ammunition to the opposition Congress which has relentlessly attacked the BJP government, accusing PM Narendra Modi of signing an overpriced deal for 36 Rafale jets to help industrialist Anil Ambani.

The note, dated November 24, 2015, which was also brought to the knowledge of the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, said maintained that the position taken by the PMO was “contradictory to the stand taken by Defence Ministry and the negotiating team.

The strongly-worded dissent note, prepared by then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, further stated that “it is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously.”

The note also says “we may advise PMO that any Officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parleys [parleys] with the officers of French Government”.

It further says that “in case the PMO is not confident about the outcome of negotiations being carried out by the MoD, a revised modality of negotiations to be led by PMO at appropriate level may be adopted in the case.”

Latching on to the opportunity to attack the PM, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday targeted PM Modi over claims about the MoD’s objections to the Rs 36,000-crore Rafale deal.

The Rafale deal was announced in 2016 after PM Modi’s talks in Paris with the then French president Francois Hollande.

The Congress contends that the government had finalised an overpriced deal to benefit Anil Ambani, whose firm Reliance Defence, despite lacking experience, was recommended as an offset partner for Dassault, the company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft. Both Dassault and the government have denied the Congress allegations.

Those allegations received a boost after Francois Hollande said that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani’s company for the offset clause, in an interview last year.

However, the BJP government has categorically denied any wrongdoing in the Rafale jet deal and accused Congress of politicising the issue and spreading rumours about the same.


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National

Grant full statehood status to Delhi: Kejriwal appeals to PM Modi

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New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grant full statehood status to Delhi, an issue that the ruling AAP is expected to rise in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in an emphatic manner.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Tuesday said it will hold a door-to-door campaign to tell people how the BJP had done them “injustice” on the issue.

Reacting to the PM’s greetings to the people of Arunachal Pradesh on their Statehood Day on Twitter, Kejriwal tweeted, “Sir. Delhi is also waiting for its statehood day. U had promised to the people of Delhi that you wud grant full statehood to Delhi. Kindly do it, sir. People of Delhi have faced injustice for 70 years now.”
Sir. Delhi is also waiting for its statehood day. U had promised to the people of Delhi that you wud grant full statehood to Delhi. Kindly do it sir. People of Delhi have faced injustice for 70 years now.

 

The culture of Arunachal Pradesh is special and its people are known for their wonderful nature as well as patriotic zeal.

May the state continue to prosper in the years to come.According to its strategy for the general election, the AAP will distribute the BJP’s manifestoes for previous elections, including that of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, in which, it said, the saffron party had supported the demand for full statehood to Delhi.

The BJP’s Delhi unit, however, said the campaign was a “new drama” by the AAP and its chief Arvind Kejriwal.

Recently, in a major setback to the AAP government in Delhi, two judges of the Supreme Court agreed that the Centre should have the final word on posting and transfer of bureaucrats in the national capital administration, but their disagreement on finer details resulted in a split verdict and the matter got referred to a larger bench.

“We will go door-to-door, telling people how the BJP has done them injustice on the issue of full statehood,” Delhi AAP convener Gopal Rai had said on Tuesday.

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Money laundering case probe: Robert Vadra appears before ED

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi: Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on February 20 appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case probe, officials said.

He reached the agency’s office at Jamnagar House in central Delhi at about 10.30 a.m. along with his lawyers, they said.

This is a scheduled appearance of Mr. Vadra before the investigating officer (IO) of the case in a criminal complaint related to allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad. He had skipped the summons on February 19, citing bad health.

 

Vadra has been questioned by the ED in this case for 23 hours over three days of deposition earlier this month. He has been asked by a Delhi court to cooperate in the probe being conducted by the central probe agency.

The ED case against Mr. Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth £1.9 million, which is allegedly owned by him.

The agency had told the court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belong to Mr. Vadra. These include two houses, one worth £5 million and the other valued at £4 million, six other flats and more properties.

Vadra has denied the allegations of possessing illegal foreign assets and termed them a political witch hunt against him. He said he was being “hounded and harassed” to subserve political ends.

Vadra’s statement is being recorded under Section 50 (powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

His first appearance before the ED earlier this month acquired political overtones after his wife Priyanka Gandhi, recently appointed Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, accompanied him to the investigating agency’s office on one day while she picked him up after questioning the next time.

Vadra had similarly deposed before the ED twice in Jaipur in an another money laundering case related to an alleged land scam in Bikaner.

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Sarada chit fund probe: SC judge recuses himself from hearing CBI plea

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Justice L. Nageswara Rao on Wednesday recused himself from hearing the CBI’s plea alleging obstruction in its probe into the multi-crore Sarada chit fund scam probe by West Bengal authorities.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rao and Sanjiv Khanna adjourned the hearing on pleas of the CBI, saying that one of the judges was not inclined to be part of the bench to hear the matter.

Justice Rao said he had appeared for the State as a lawyer and therefore cannot hear the case.

 

The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on February 27 before an appropriate bench of which Justice Rao is not a part.

On February 18, West Bengal Chief secretary Malay Kumar De, DGP Virendera Kumar and Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar had filed separate affidavits in the apex court on the contempt petition moved by the CBI in connection with the scam and had tendered “unconditional and unambiguous apology”.

The apex court had on February 5 directed them to file replies on the contempt pleas filed against them by the CBI.

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