In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter re­buts Rafale al­le­ga­tions

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Paris, France - In­dia’s De­fence Min­is­ter faced new ques­tions over a 2016 deal to buy Rafale fighter jets from France, which crit­ics say un­fairly prof­ited a key backer of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

Speak­ing at a brief­ing in Paris, Nir­mala Sithara­man re­it­er­ated the govern­ment’s claim that it had no idea the jets’ builder, Das­sault Avi­a­tion, would team up with Re­liance Group, run by the In­dian bil­lion­aire Anil Am­bani.

Sev­eral re­ports say Das­sault was forced to choose Re­liance by Modi. French web­site Me­di­a­part quoted the notes of a meet­ing be­tween Das­sault man­age­ment and work­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives which de­scribed the choice of Re­liance as ‘im­per­a­tive and com­pul­sory’. “We are very clear: With the govern­ment of France, we agreed to pur­chase 36 Rafale air­craft in fly­away con­di­tion,” Sithara­man said. “And in an in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment, there are no men­tions of any in­di­vid­ual firms,” she said.

Pressed on whether In­dia would go ahead with the deal amid a cho­rus of ‘crony cap­i­tal­ism’ claims, she said. “It is more for the com­pa­nies which have cho­sen A, B or C as their part­ners to an­swer ques­tions if there are any,” she said.


In­dia’s De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man (left) in Paris

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