Parrikar washed hands off Rafale deal to save his neck: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday said that former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar “washed his hands off the deal” in order to save his neck.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari made the statement after the Centre today 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.

The Congress asserted that Parrikar had sensed that the deal might land into controversy in near future and hence kept him-self out of it.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari cited the noting by the then Defence Minister Parrikar which read, “It appears that the PMO and the French president Office are monitoring the progress of the issue which was the outcomes of the summit meetings and Para (5) appears to be an over-reaction. Defence secretary may resolve the issue in the matter in consultation with Principal Secretary to PM.”

“What Manohar Parrikar has done is that he has washed his hands off the matter. He is like ‘see boss I am out of it’ and if tomorrow there is going to be a problem I am not going to be a part of it,” he added.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday rejected Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s allegation based on a media report that claimed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) ran parallel negotiations with France on the multi-billion Rafale fighter jet deal.

“A newspaper published a file noting written by Defence Secretary. If a newspaper publishes a noting, then the ethics of journalism will demand that the newspaper publishes the then Defence Minister’s reply as well,” Sitharaman said.

“Then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar replied to that MoD note saying ‘remain calm, nothing to worry, everything is going alright.’ Now, what do you call the NAC led by Sonia Gandhi’s interference in earlier PMO? What was that,” the Defence Minister asked in the Lok Sabha.