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Opposition nails Modi after former French President Francois Hollande speaks

Ten days after India sealed the government-to-government agreement on the Rafale deal, Reliance Defence and Dassault had announced a joint venture (JV) in the aerospace sector and a year later, the foundation stone of a manufacturing facility was laid in Mihan, Nagpur. 

The opposition parties  alleged that the Reliance Defence was formed just 12 days before the announcement of the Rafale deal by the prime minister on 10 April 2015. The Reliance group has rejected the charges.

In this scenario  36000 cr Rafalescam  affair or as the French say L’affaire Rafale, blew up in a big way after former French President Francois Hollande was quoted saying that the Indian government proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as Dassault Aviation’s partner in multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal and France did not have a choice. 

The report in ‘Mediapart’, a French language publication, quoted Hollande as saying, “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”

Asked who selected Reliance as a partner and why, Hollande replied, “We had no say in this regard.” Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, had chosen Reliance Defence as its partner to fulfill offset obligations of the deal. The government has been maintaining it did not have any role in selection of the offset partner by Dassault.

After this bomb shell in a damage control exercise   Nirmala Sitharaman  denied suggesting Reliance Defence and had clearly stated on 18 September 2018 and quoted saying by India Today: “I’ve not put his (Anil Ambani) name in the agreement. I can’t tell a commercial entity who to go with. That’s a commercial decision. Why will I go into it’ I don’t have any vendor in this case except for Dassault”.

Also left with no other alternative  Reacting to Hollande’s reported remark that is at variance with the Indian government’s position, a defence ministry spokesman said, “The report referring to former French president Hollande’s statement that government of India insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified.” The spokesperson also said, “It is reiterated that neither the government nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision.”

The French government Friday said it is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being, or will be selected by French companies,” 

The French government statement  added , “In accordance with India’s acquisition procedure, French companies have the full freedom to choose the Indian partner companies that they consider to be the most relevant, then present for the Indian government’s approval the offsets projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard.” The Congress

The party of the Rafale scam deal Dassault stated that while the Rafale deal was a contract between the Indian and the French governments, it provided for a separate contract in which Dassault Aviation committed to making compensation investments (offsets) in India equivalent to 50 per cent of the value of the purchase.

“This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation’s choice, as CEO Eric Trappier had explained in an interview published in MINT newspaper on April 17, 2018. This partnership has led to the creation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint-venture in February 2017,” the company stated.

“Dassault Aviation and Reliance have built a plant in Nagpur for manufacturing parts for Falcon and Rafale aircraft. The Nagpur site was chosen because of the availability of land with direct access to an airport runway, an essential condition of aeronautic activities,” it added.

The French aviation company also said that contracts were signed with companies other than Reliance as well, as part of the offsets contract under the Rafale deal.

‘Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL,’ Other negotiations are ongoing with hundred-odd other potential partners,’ the firm divulged.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi led a blistering opposition attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday over the Rafale deal, accusing him of betraying India and dishonouring its soldiers, after former French president Francois Hollande’s reported remarks contradicting the Indian government’s stand.

Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The PM personally negotiated & changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to Fran ois 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.” The Congress chief has been repeatedly targeting the government over the fighter aircraft deal, alleging corruption and cronyism.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yachury accused the government of lying and misleading people.

“This Rafale deal is a scam if there was one. The Modi govt has lied and misled Indians. The whole truth must come out now. Why was the Indian government batting for one corporate house with no experience in defence manufacture’” Yechury tweeted.

In a swipe at Modi, AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked the prime minister to come clean.

“The country wants to know the truth. Complete truth. Everyday Indian government’s comments are turning out to to false. People have started believing that something bad has really happened. Why else the government will lie everyday,” he tweeted.

The only BJP leader to react so far was Subramanian Swamy BJP MP who said: ‘”this is serious, if accurately reported”.

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Splco Special Correspondent
News analysis wing of Splco Media a bilingual (English & Tamil) novel social media channel.

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