Rafale Deal: Dassault Aviation clarifies after Hollande remarks

In a recent development, French defence manufacturing giant Dassault Aviation has refuted the claims made by former French President Francois Hollande and said that it was Dassault who selected Ambani’s Reliance Defence and not the Indian government.

On Friday, the controversy over Rafale fighter jet deal took a new twist following former French President Francois Hollande’s reported claim that the Indian government recommended Reliance Defence for the offset clause in the Rafale fighter jet deal.

However, the Defence Ministry continued to maintain that neither the government of India nor French government had any say in the commercial decision.

Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, had chosen Reliance Defence as its partner to fulfil offset obligations of the deal. However, Modi government said earlier it did not have any role in selection of the offset partner.

The French media report quoted Hollande as saying “we did not have a say in this…the Indian government proposed this service group and Dassault negotiated with Ambani group. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”

The Congress and other Opposition parties slammed the Modi government for hiding fact on the deal.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi thanked François Hollande for disclosing the facts and said, “The PM personally negotiated & changed the #Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani. The PM has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers.”

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram tweeted, “In the NDA negotiated Rafale aircraft deal, we have got no aircraft, we have got only lies. What is the new lie that the government will put out in response to Mr Hollande?”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “By hiding crucial facts on Rafale deal, is Modi govt not endangering national security? Former French President’s statement directly contradicts what Modi govt had been saying so far. Can the country be taken for a ride any further?”

“Prime Minister, speak the truth. The nation wants to know the truth, whole truth. Every day, government of India’s statements are being proven untrue. People have started suspecting by now that something is not right (in Rafale deal), else why would the government lie day after day,” Kejriwal added.

The deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France was announced by Narendra Modi in 2015 and signed in 2016.

Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner for offsets and that the government had no say in the deal.