New Delhi: Following former French president Francois Hollande’s revelation – that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the India partner for multi-million dollar Rafale jet deal – the French government on Friday night clarified that it was not involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners. The French government stated that their role was just to ensure the delivery and quality of the aircraft. “The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being, or will be selected by French companies,” a statement by the French government said.
Here are the key highlights of the development:
- Dassault Aviation in a statement said, “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…”
- In its release, the French government stressed that the French companies have complete freedom to choose Indian partner companies in the Rafale deal. “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 fulfill their obligations in this regard,” it said.
- “We did not have a say in this… the Indian government proposed this service group and Dassault negotiated with (Anil) Ambani group. We did not have a choice, we took the partner who was given to us,” a French journal on Friday quoted Francois Hollande as saying.
- Denying the charge, a defence ministry spokesperson tweeted that the report “is being verified” and that “neither GoI (government of India) nor the French Government had any say in the commercial decision.”
- The report is most likely to cause a major political stir in India as a part of a massive government-opposition row – in a build up to the upcoming elections including the 2019 national polls. The opposition alleges crony capitalism in the nomination of Reliance Defence, since the group has no prior experience in aerospace manufacturing.
- The Anil Ambani-led group is manufacturing aerospace components as part of the offset component of the Rafale deal. The clause requires Rafale manufacturer Dassault to ensure that business worth around Rs 30,000 crores is generated for the Indian defence system. Reliance Defence is not making components for the Rafales ordered by India but is building assemblies for Dassault business jets.
- Following the revelation, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi – who has been launching offensive on PM Modi over Rafale deal – tweeted to say, “the PM has betrayed India and has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers”.
- Anil Ambani, in a two-page letter in December to Rahul Gandhi had defended his company’s credentials: “Not only do we have the necessary experience but we are also the leaders in several important areas of defense manufacture.”
- Francois Hollande is also facing allegations of crony capitalism in his country. As per reports, two days before Hollande came to New Delhi as the Republic Day chief guest and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for delivering 36 Rafale aircraft, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment entered into a deal to produce a film with his partner and actor Julie Gayet.