MoD downplays Cong charges on official's 'dissent note'

MoD downplays Cong charges on official's 'dissent note'

Congress workers wear masks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and billionaire businessman Anil Ambani, during a protest demanding resignations of Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over allegations of corruption in a Rafale fighter planes deal wit

The defence ministry on Thursday downplayed the Congress allegation of ignoring the opinion of a senior defence ministry bureaucrat, who wrote against the purchase of 36 Rafale deal in the file, arguing its too expensive for India.

The counter comes in the wake of a media report flagging a “note of dissent” put up by a Joint Secretary in the Defence Ministry on the pricing issue. The official was overruled by his boss months before a Rs 59,000 crore deal was signed between India and France.

As the Congress went to the town with the report stoking the fire on the raging controversy, official sources said such (media) report betrays “ignorance of the collegiate process involving due deliberations and diligence at various levels, through which all major government decisions are typically taken.”

“While ensuring utmost integrity and transparency, the process allows for opinions to be freely expressed, recorded, discussed and. If necessary, modified,” sources said.

The joint secretary and his boss who overruled him on Rafale pricing (Director General Acquisition and Additional Secretary) are out of the defence ministry.

Following the stipulated process, the Cabinet Committee on Security accorded its approval to the acquisition on August 24, 2016, and not in September 2016, as claimed in the report.

“Parliament has already been informed on July 18, that the audit of the capital acquisition system, including the Rafale aircraft, is being conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India,” sources said.

“It has been categorically stressed by the (NDA) government several times that not only price but also other factors including maintenance, training, armament and equipment, etc. in the contract for the 36 Rafale fighter aircraft represent better terms as compared to the negotiations conducted but never concluded by the previous government,” they added.

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