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Now They Are in Big Trouble And Are Trying to Cover Up: N. Ram Hits Back at Nirmala Sitharaman

He said that Sitharaman’s response was a “Desperate attempt...to divert attention from fact that parallel negotiations were taking place.”

Chairman of The Hindu Group N. Ram has hit back at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. In her address in Lok Sabha, on February 8, Sitharaman had rubbished the report in The Hindu that stated the Defence Ministry’s objections to “parallel negotiations” being carried out by the Prime Minister’s Office in the Rafale defence deal.

He told ANI, “I don’t need any certificate from Nirmala Sitharaman. Now they are in big trouble and are trying to cover up. My only advice to her would be, ‘You are not involved in the transaction, why you take upon yourself the burden of justifying the indefensible?'”

He told CNBC-TV18 that the government’s response was a desperate attempt. “Desperate attempt by govt to divert attention from fact that parallel negotiations were taking place. This is govt’s desperate attempt to try and dictate how The Hindu should do a story.”

As per the report in The Hindu, at the height of the negotiations over the Rafale deal between India and France in 2015, the Defence Ministry raised strong objections to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the PMO with the French side, stating that it was clear that such parallel discussions by the PMO had “weakened the negotiating position of MoD and Indian Negotiating Team.”

“They are flogging a dead horse. Periodical enquiries by the PMO cannot be construed as interference,” Sitharaman had said, further accusing the newspaper of “not carrying Defence Minister’s reply” to the note. “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,” she had said.

Also read: Rafale Parallel Negotiations By PMO Weakened India’s Negotiating Team: Defence Ministry’s Note

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