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Manohar Parrikar Downplays Role of Sushma's Ministry, Says Real 'Backroom Boys' are in Defence

"What prime minister (Narendra Modi) did was beyond imagination... He activated the diaspora and created a world of his own amongst many of the nations," Parrikar said.


Updated:December 10, 2017, 11:34 AM IST
Manohar Parrikar Downplays Role of Sushma's Ministry, Says Real 'Backroom Boys' are in Defence
File photo of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (PTI)

Panaji: Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday downplayed the role of the External Affairs Ministry in international diplomacy, while crediting Defence Ministry officials as the real "backroom boys", who slog in the background to actually get international deals going.

"External Affairs Ministry is a face of diplomacy, defence is the backroom boys. Defence does the actual exercise which needs to be done. For example, if you talk about Mauritius, the agreements were all signed by the External Affairs Ministry, the executing boys are Defence. They are working on various projects for improving the Coast Guard, defence of Mauritius..." the Goa Chief Minister said at the Goa Arts and Literature Festival in Panaji.

"Whether it is Mauritius, whether it is United Arab Emirates, the front end which normally the media and the world sees is the Ministry of External Affairs or foreign affairs, whichever you want to call it.

"The back-end room is occupied by Defence. Defence attaches do a major role. They are eyes and ears for the government of India. They are the ones who work overnight. Like improvement in relation with US. After 10 years of stalemate in UPA's (United Progressive Alliance) time, we managed to get logistics agreement cleared in one year's time. I am happy to say that that didn't come under much scanner," he said.

At the event, Parrikar launched the book 'Securing India The Modi Way', written by strategic analyst Nitin Gokhale.

Parrikar said Modi has "created real friendships" and he was proud to say as a defence minister he was a part of that, "because foreign diplomacy is not only (the preserve of) the external affairs ministry."

"What prime minister (Narendra Modi) did was beyond imagination... He activated the diaspora and created a world of his own amongst many of the nations," Parrikar said.

Referring to the "surgical strikes" India carried out on militant bases across the LoC during his tenure as the defence minister in September 2016, he said he believed in secrecy but disclosed that during the planning of the strikes, mobile phones were switched off.

"When you talk to one additional person, the secrecy never remains. In fact, the surgical strikes were planned with mobile phones kept 20 metres away. Not only they were put off but kept 20 metres away so that nothing leaks," he said.

"And I am very proud to say only one thing: I must have had between Uri (terror attack on Indian Army's base) and actual (surgical) strikes something like 18-19 meetings, which includes (meetings with) Army top brass and also defence ministry's officers, but nothing leaked out," he said.

Some officers were flown to foreign capitals to make arrangements for armaments and ammunitions before the surgical strikes, Parrikar revealed.

"We had to send officers with authority to carry out on the spot purchase. When you work out something, your preparation has to be perfect to ensure that everything is taken care (of)," he said.

But keeping secrets was also demanding, he noted.

"When you don't tell anyone, you tend to build up stress.

Normally stress is relieved by discussing with friends, but in defence you are not in a position to discus any of the issues with anyone, whether it is Myanmar surgical strike or PoK surgical strike, I virtually didn't sleep because of the pressure," the former defence minister said.

(With agency inputs)

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| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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