United Nations: Avoiding the controversy over the Rafale Deal, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said that the contract was inked between India and France when he was not in power. He clearly stated that the Rafale deal was a “government-to-government” discussion signed in the month of September, last year for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. The multi-billion dollar deal was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 when Francois Hollande was the President of France. The Rafale fights jets are scheduled to be delivered from September 2019.

At the press conference, Macron was questioned if the Indian government had asked France or Dassault – the French aerospace major – to accept Reliance as the Indian partner for the Rafale deal. Macron responded by saying, “I don’t have any other comment. I was not in charge at that time and I know that we have very clear rules.” The contract holds significance to Macron because “this contract is part of a broader framework which is military and defence” coalition between the two countries, India and France. The nature of the coalition is strategic and not just one that is based on an industrial relation. “I just want to refer to what Prime Minister Modi said a few days ago,” added Macron.

The ‘Rafale deal’ became a controversial issue when a report in the French media quoted former president Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian partnership in the Rafale deal was chosen at the behest of New Delhi. Francois Hollande stated that France did not have a choice when the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for the French aerospace giant in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal. A report in ‘Mediapart’, a French language publication quoted Hollande as saying, “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”

(With inputs from PTI)