Anil’s Reliance Defence ‘freely chosen’: Dassault Aviation
Congress chief demands investigation in Rafale deal
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
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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.
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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
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