Hollande throws live grenade in Rafale deal muck

Frederick Owens
September 22, 2018

"The former French president has clearly and categorically said that the prime minister himself suggested the name of Anil Ambani's company".

The sensational comments quoted to Hollande by French publication "Mediapart" gave a new twist to the controversy as the Indian government has been maintaining it was not officially aware of whom the Dassault Aviation has selected as its Indian partner to fulfil offset obligations of the deal. What is staggering is that the prime minister is still silent on it.

Opposition parties have stepped up their attack on the Rafale deal, alleging that the government's "complicity, collusion and conspiracy" to benefit Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "crony friend" has been exposed following former French President Francois Hollande's comments. "The French government knows verbal interactions between former President Francois Hollande and Indian interlocutors are minuted and would emerge", he tweeted. "It is clear that the watchman was not only a partner but also an accused, -" Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

While all 36 Rafale fighters are being manufactured in France, an offset requirement, which is a part of an all-Indian defence procurement worth more than Rs 2 trillion, requires French companies that build the Rafale - Dassault, Thales and Safran - to plough back 50 per cent of the contract value into Indian defence production.

The 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. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi's government had influenced the choice of a local partner.

For that, the French firm picked Reliance and not Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the state-run giant that has been producing planes for decades, a lot of them Russian under license.

"The Modi government has lied and misled Indians".

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"The report referring to the former French president Mr. Hollande's statement that GOI (Government of India) insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified".

He also claimed that various defence ministers of the NDA government have been lying to protect Modi.

He said Reliance and Dassault had entered into agreement as early as 2012 when UPA was in power.

The Paris-based company said the partnership between the two giants led to the creation of the "Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint-venture in February 2017".

The Opposition Congress party, however, seized on the news report as an admission that the Rafale deal was marred by corruption.

"It is reiterated that neither government of India nor French government had any say in the commercial decision", it said.

"This is Dassault Aviation's choice, as (Dassault) CEO Eric Trappier explained in an interview published in MINT newspaper on April 17", the company, which also makes Falcon business planes, said in a statement.

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