Anil’s Re­liance De­fence ‘freely cho­sen’: Das­sault Avi­a­tion

Congress chief de­mands in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Rafale deal

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NEW DELHI: Das­sault Avi­a­tion, the maker of Rafale fighter jets, said on Wed­nes­day night that it had “freely cho­sen to make a part­ner­ship with In­dia’s Re­liance Group”. The Rafale-maker’s clar­i­fi­ca­tion came in re­sponse to a French me­dia web­site claim that Das­sault Avi­a­tion was pre­sented with no op­tion but to tie up with Anil Am­bani-led Re­liance De­fence as the main off­sets part­ner in the Rs 59,000-crore con­tract for 36 jets.

“Within the frame­work of the Septem­ber 2016 In­ter-gov­ern­ment Agree­ment be­tween France and In­dia, Das­sault Avi­a­tion has sold 36 Rafale air­craft to In­dia. In com­pli­ance with the In­dian reg­u­la­tions (De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure) and as fre­quent with such a con­tract, Das­sault Avi­a­tion has com­mit­ted to off­sets in In­dia worth 50% of the value of the pur­chase. To de­liver some of these off­sets, Das­sault Avi­a­tion has de­cided to create a joint ven­ture. Das­sault Avi­a­tion has freely cho­sen to make a part­ner­ship with In­dia’s Re­liance Group. This joint-ven­ture, Das­sault Re­liance Aero­space Ltd (DRAL), was cre­ated Fe­bru­ary 10, 2017,” Das­sault said in a press re­lease.

“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 state­ment added.

French in­ves­tiga­tive web­site Me­di­a­part, which last month quoted former French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande as claim­ing the In­dian gov­ern­ment had vir­tu­ally thrust Re­liance De­fence as off­sets part­ner on France, on Wed­nes­day said it had a Das­sault doc­u­ment

VICE PRES­I­DENT VENKA­IAH NAIDU

prov­ing the same. The re­port came even as de­fence min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man left for a three-day visit to France on Wed­nes­day night.

Me­di­a­part claimed the doc­u­ment showed the al­liance with Re­liance De­fence was in­deed pre­sented as “a trade-off ” to ob­tain the con­tract, quot­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion made by Das­sault’s deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Loik Se­galen to the com­pany’s staff rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Nag­pur.

The French gov­ern­ment and Das­sault promptly re­but­ted Hol-

lande’s claim last month. The In­dian de­fence min­istry, too, dis­missed the con­tro­versy as “un­nec­es­sary”, main­tain­ing it had never sug­gested any com­pany’s name as the off­sets part­ner in the deal.

Re­ject­ing Rahul Gandhi’s al­le­ga­tion of cor­rup­tion against Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in the Rafale deal, the BJP on Thurs­day ac­cused the Congress chief of “ly­ing through his teeth shame

lessly” and in­dulging in “pol­i­tics of mis­in­for­ma­tion” to build his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

Deny­ing tem­ple en­try does not have re­li­gious sanc­tion

NEW DELHI: Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi on Thurs­day de­manded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion against Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on his role in the Rafale deal, al­leg­ing that he was a “cor­rupt man” who helped Anil Am­bani pocket Rs 30,000 crore in the pur­chase of 36 air­craft.

He also de­scribed De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man's ongoing three-day visit to France as part of a “great cover-up”.

Gandhi's al­le­ga­tions came a day af­ter a re­port in French pub­li­ca­tion that said Das­sault Avi­a­tion, the man­u­fac­turer of Rafale, had to choose Am­bani's firm Re­liance De­fence as its off­set part­ner in In­dia as a trade­off for get­ting the deal.

The gov­ern­ment has been in­sist­ing it had no role in Das­sault's choice of Re­liance De­fence. “The re­al­ity is that the prime min­is­ter is cor­rupt. The prime min­is­ter of In­dia is a cor­rupt per­son, but he came to power on the prom­ise of fight­ing cor­rup­tion,” Gandhi said at a press con­fer­ence.

“... in the Rafale con­tract, the prime min­is­ter has in­dulged in clear cut cor­rup­tion and there should be an in­ves­ti­ga­tion on it.”

Ques­tion­ing Modi's si­lence on the is­sue, he said, “It is clear there is pres­sure. If he is un­able to re­spond, he should re­sign.”

The Congress pres­i­dent, how­ever, did not pro­vide any ev­i­dence to back his al­le­ga­tions against the prime min­is­ter.

“Why has sud­denly the de­fence min­is­ter rushed to France? What is the emer­gency?” he asked.

“The# Great rafa le cover up has be­gun. To try and show the deal is le­git­i­mate, Rak­sha Mantri will need to gen­er­ate min­utes of imag­i­nary meet­ings held be­tween the French and our Min­istry of De­fence and both sides will need to agree on a com­mon story to be spun to the me­dia. RM left for France last night,” he added on Twit­ter.

Asked about the pur­pose be­hind Sithara­man's France visit, Gandhi told re­porters, “To put pres­sure on Das­sault, to si­lence them and do a cover up. This is the logic.”

The whole idea, he said, is to put pres­sure on Das­sault. The me­dia was also be­ing put un­der pres­sure, he added, assert­ing that the truth on the deal will come out and there was enough ma­te­rial for it.

An­swer­ing a ques­tion on why other par­ties were not join­ing him in speak­ing on the Rafale deal, Gandhi said whether he speaks or some­one else, the real is­sue is that “the ex-pres­i­dent of France - no less has said In­dia's prime min­is­ter

is cor­rupt”.

Last month, French in­ves­tiga­tive pub­li­ca­tion Me­di­a­part quoted former French pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande as say­ing that France was given “no choice” on se­lec­tion of In­dian part­ner for Das­sault and the In­dian gov­ern­ment pro­posed the In­dian com­pany's name.

On Wed­nes­day, Me­di­a­part, cit­ing an in­ter­nal doc­u­ment of Das­sault Avi­a­tion, re­ported that the aero­space giant was forced to en­ter into a joint ven­ture with Re­liance De­fence as part of a trade-off to bag the con­tract for the 36 Rafale jet deal. Das­sault Avi­a­tion said in a state­ment that it has “freely cho­sen to make a part­ner­ship with In­dia's Re­liance Group”.

Ac­cord­ing to Gandhi, a se­nior Das­sault ex­ec­u­tive has said In­dia's prime min­is­ter pushed the con­tract. Now both, Hol­lande and Das­sault, are say­ing the In­dian prime min­is­ter has said that “with­out this com­pen­sa­tion, this deal can­not be done”.

“Com­pen­sa­tion' for what, what has Anil Am­bani done? What is he be­ing com­pen­sated for, that is the ques­tion?” the Congress pres­i­dent asked.

Das­sault, he said, is sit­ting on a huge con­tract and will say what the In­dian gov­ern­ment wants it to say.

The Congress chief re­it­er­ated his charge that Modi is Am­bani's “chowki­daar' not not the coun­try's. “One thing is very clear... In­dia's prime min­is­ter got the Rafale con­tract for Anil Am­bani's com­pany and this is not the only con­tract, some more de­fence con­tracts will come,” he said, adding that ques­tions will be raised on the en­tire de­fence con­tracts.

“So to In­dia's youth, farm­ers, small shop­keep­ers and broth­ers and sis­ters, Naren­dra Modi ji has done ‘chowki­dari' of Anil Am­bani and the truth is that he has given him a Rs 30,000 crore con­tract to save him and his busi­ness,” Gandhi al­leged.

On cases of cor­rup­tion against Congress lead­ers and his own fam­ily, he said, the BJP is in gov­ern­ment and can carry out any kind of in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Das­sault Avi­a­tion said in a state­ment that it has “freely cho­sen to make a part­ner­ship with In­dia's Re­liance Group”.

“In com­pli­ance with the In­dian reg­u­la­tions (De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure) and as fre­quent with such a con­tract, Das­sault Avi­a­tion has com­mit­ted to off­sets in In­dia worth 50 per cent of the value of the pur­chase,” it said in its re­ac­tion fol­low­ing the Me­di­a­part re­port.

The Rafale-maker’s clar­i­fi­ca­tion came in re­sponse to a French me­dia web­site claim that Das­sault Avi­a­tion was pre­sented with no op­tion but to tie up with Anil Am­bani-led Re­liance De­fence as the main off­sets part­ner in the Rs 59,000-crore con­tract for 36 jets BJP rub­bishes Rahul Gandhi’s cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions

Congress Pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi speaks as AICC chief spokes per­son Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala looks on, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at AICC HQ, in New Delhi, on Thurs­day

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