New Delhi: Former French President François Hollande on Friday said that it was the Indian government which gave the name of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as its India partner in the Rafale jet deal, said French website Mediapart. Hollande’s statement added fuel to the fire as the controversy regarding Rafale deal deepened every single day. Hollande went on to say that Dassault Aviation had no choice but to ally with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Industries. Also Read - Ahead of Rajya Sabha Polls, Another Gujarat Congress MLA Resigns; Third in 2 Days
Hollande said, “We did not have a say in that. The Indian government proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor we were given.” The interview was published in French and parts of Hollande’s interview were tweeted by French Newspaper LeMonde journalist Julien Boissou. Also Read - Major Setback For Congress in Gujarat as 2 Party MLAs Resign Ahead of Rajya Sabha Polls
Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry denied the charge saying no government had any say in the decision as the agreement between Dassault and Reliance was a commercial pact between two private parties.
“The report referring to former French president Mr Hollande statement that the government of India insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor the French Government had any say in the commercial decision,” Defence Ministry tweeted.
Stepping up the attack on the government on Rafale deal following Hollande’s statement, Congress leader Manish Tewari asked the former French president to enlighten about the price of the fighter jets. Tewari said, “President (Former) Francois Hollande should also enlighten us how the price went up from 590 crores in 2012 to 1690 crores in 2015 per Rafale fighter jet? Escalation of a mere 1100 crores. I am sure the Euro equivalent would not be a problem to calculate.”
Congress which has been on an attacking mode regarding the Rafale deal has stressed in the past that the government deliberately kept Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) out of the Rafale deal under offset clause which has been time and again refuted by both Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Earlier, former chairman and managing director (CMD) of HAL, T. Suvarna Raju too had said that Dassault and HAL had signed the mutual workshare contract and given it to the government. Raju had also said that the life-cycle costs of the aircraft would have been cheaper if the aircraft had been made in India.