New Delhi: Reiterating that the Indian government had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as Indian Offset partner in the Rafale deal, the Defence Ministry on Saturday said that it was a “commercial decision” and no government was involved in it. Trying to dispel the controversy surrounding the India-France Rafale jet and terming it as “unnecessary”, the Defence Ministry said that Hollande’s statements needed to be “seen in its full context”. Also Read - Rafale deal should not go 'unchallenged': Chidambaram
“Unnecessary controversies are being created following reports regarding a statement purportedly made by former French President, Francois Hollande, concerning the selection of Reliance Defence as the Offset partner by Dassault, manufacturers of Rafale aircraft. The reported statement perhaps needs to be seen in its full context – where the French media has raised issues of conflict of interest involving persons close to the former President. His subsequent statements are also relevant in this regard,” a Defence Ministry statement read. Also Read - Did Mediapart mislead on mandatory partnership with Reliance?
The statement further said that “the Government of India has no role in the selection of Indian Offset partner which is a commercial decision of the Original Equipment Manufacturer.” Also Read - Sitharaman holds talks with French Defence Minister Parly
The ministry’s statement came a day after French publication ‘Mediapart’ quoted former French president Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for French aerospace giant in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.
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.”
“It has been reported that a JV between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation came into being in February 2017. This is a purely commercial arrangement between two private companies. Incidentally, media reports of February 2012 suggest that Dassault Aviation, within two weeks of being declared the lowest bidder for procurement of 126 aircraft by the previous Government, had entered into a pact for partnership with Reliance Industries in Defence sector,” according to the statement.
The statement further said, “Dassault Aviation has issued a Press Release stating that it has signed a partnership agreement with several companies and is negotiating with a hundred odd other companies. As per the guidelines, the vendor is to provide the details of the offset partners either at the time of seeking offset credit or one year prior to discharge of offset obligation, which in this case will be due from 2020,” it said.
“In view of above, it is once again reiterated that the Government of India has no role in the selection of Indian Offset partner which is a commercial decision of the OEM,” the statement concluded. Click here to read the full statement.