‘Truth can’t have 2 versions’: Arun Jaitley addresses Hollande’s statement on Rafale deal

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday morning questioned former French President Francois Hollande’s controversial claim on Rafale fighter jet deal and said that “truth cannot have two versions”.

While saying that Hollande made contradictory statements on the deal, Jaitley – in a Facebook blog post – reiterated that neither the Indian nor the French government played any role in the selection of industrialist Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the domestic partner in the deal.

Jaitley’s response comes amid political uproar over Hollande’s statement to a French journal on Friday, wherein he claimed that Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence as the industrial partner in the fighter jet deal and that France “did not have a choice” in the matter.

However, in a later interaction with a news agency, Hollande had said that he was unaware and “only Dassault can comment on this”.

“‘The partners (Dassault and Reliance) selected themselves’ as former President Hollande now says. This contradicts his first questionable statement which the French Government and Dassault have denied. The facts contradict the same. His second statement in Montreal, Canada to AFP makes the veracity of his first statement even more questionable,” Jaitley said.

The Finance Minister also attacked the Congress – which had laid allegations of corruption on PM Modi and the Centre, based on Hollande’s statement.

“The Congress Party’s official handle on 31.8.2018 had carried the tweet of one of its leader ‘It is evident that Anil Ambani bribed President Hollande through his actor-partner to get the Dassault partnership.’For the Congress Party to allege that a former President had been bribed by an Indian business group and then use him as a primary witness, particularly when he is facing criticism for an alleged conflict of interest within his own country,” Jaitley wrote.

The Congress party has alleged that the government chose Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group over state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for an offset deal in the $8.7-billion purchase initiated in 2016.

The ministry of defence said on Saturday that “unnecessary controversy” was being created by the opposition parties.