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Opposition flogging a dead horse, says Sitharaman after uproar in Parliament over Rafale

File photo of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 08, 2019, 01.18 PM (IST)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Lok Sabha today that the Opposition was "flogging a dead horse" over the Rafale deal after Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was directly involved in conducting negotiations with the French side on the Rafale deal.

Ex-defence secretary G Mohan Kumar who at the time handled negotiations on Rafale, told newswire ANI that whatever has been brought out by media reports had nothing to do with the pricing issue.

"It was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions," G Mohan Kumar said.

Sitharaman in a statement in the Lok Sabha said: "They are flogging a dead horse. Periodical enquiries by the PMO cannot be construed as interference."

The Congress-led Opposition had disrupted the lower house of Parliament after a report claimed the then defence secretary had objected to the PMO allegedly conducting price negotiations with the French company.

Sitharaman said the Opposition was playing into the hands of multinational companies and vested interests and not working in the interests of the Indian Air Force.

Sitharaman said ex-defence minister Manohar Parrikar had replied to the letter asking the official to remain "calm" as everything was "alright".

India's defence minister alleged that the then chairperson of the National Advisory Council Sonia Gandhi used to run the PMO regularly during the UPA regime.

"Was that not interference?," she asked.

India's upper house of Parliament the Rajya Sabha was also disrupted after Congress sought to raise the Rafale issue. 

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue but chairman M Venkaiah Naidu disallowed the Congress leader asserting that he had reserved the final judgement on the notice by Congress members under Rule 267 on the issue.

Rule 267 provides for setting aside the business of the day to discuss the issue being raised.

Vice-president Naidu adjourned the proceedings till Monday after continued Opposition protests.
 

Story highlights

Sitharaman said ex-defence minister Manohar Parrikar had replied to the letter asking the official to remain "calm" as everything was "alright".