Meet Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, the Chief of the Indian Negotiating Team (INT) from December 2015 till September 2016 when the contract was signed with France for acquiring 36 Rafale fighter jets.
He had taken over the Chairmanship from Air Marshal S B P Sinha, who headed the negotiations team before he got promoted and was posted as the Central Air Commander in Allahabad.
From December 2015, Bhadauria came in as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff in air Headquarters and was appointed as the Chairman of the INT.
Significantly, the first Rafale aircraft to be delivered to India, likely in September this year, will have ‘RB-008’ inscribed on its tail as a mark of tribute to Bhaduria for successful negotiations of the deal.
At present, Bhadauria is the commander of the Indian Air Force’s Training Command in Bengaluru looking after all the Training establishments of the force.
Breaking his silence, Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Wednesday said three members of his team had raised certain objection points which were “not dissent” as these were “suitably included and addressed” in his final report.
Bhaduria told media that the observations by the three members were part of the deliberations of the INT and could not be viewed as a ‘dissent note’ as stated in a newspaper report today (February 14).
“These observations from three members were brought to me as the INT chairman. This was not a dissent note. All the issues given to me were discussed earlier also as these points were raised during discussions within INT and taken up in external negotiations,” Bhadauria said while commenting on a media report which suggested that three members had submitted an eight-page “dissent note”.
This is the first time that Air Marshal Bhadauria has publicly spoken on the terms of the Rafale deal. The Congress and other opposition parties have been raising questions on various facets of the Rafale deal.
Bhadauria explained that the points raised by the three members were earlier also discussed by them and later on “these observations were put in writing by these members.”
“All the issues were adequately included in the INT Report and also addressed in the forwarding note by me as the Chairman of the INT. It must be understood that the INT Report was without any dissent note.”
He said “these observations must be seen as part of deliberations of INT which were taken into account before the report was finalised and forwarded.”
Asked about the observations of the Ministry of Law and Justice that there was no sovereign guarantee from the French side in the multi billion dollar Rafale deal, Bhadauria said the “final formulation of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) was approved by the Law Ministry.