A fresh political slugfest had ensued in India after a statement from the former French president Francois Hollande that the Indian government had manipulated the Rafale deal to benefit Anil Ambani. Yesterday, an article in a French website Mediapart had quoted Hollande as saying that the government of India had proposed that the Anil Ambani owned Reliance Defence should be the service provider to Dassault in the mega-deal. Following the allegations, the French government and Dassault released statements refuting these claims. The French government said that they had no role in the selection process, and Dassault asserted that they had decided to partner with Reliance on their own.
However, Hollande seems to have a different version altogether too. As reported by Associate French Press (AFP), Hollande has asserted that he has no idea if there was any pressure from the Indian government to choose Reliance.
The AFP report says (emphasis added):
Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of a meeting in Canada on Friday, the former French leader insisted that France “did not choose Reliance in any way“.
When asked whether India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Hollande said he was unaware and “only Dassault can comment on this”.
The Former French President told AFP that he is unaware of any pressure to partner with Reliance and this question can only be answered by Dassault Aviation. Incidentally, as we reported earlier, Dassault Aviation too has issued a statement that there was no interference and the decision to partner with Reliance was solely theirs.
FLASH: From Agency AFP, when asked whether India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Ex France President Hollande said he was unaware and “only Dassault can comment on this”. pic.twitter.com/YEb8eaD7Gw
— ANI (@ANI) September 22, 2018
The report also states the former President saying:
Hollande denied any conflict of interest with Reliance, which partially financed a film produced by his girlfriend Julie Gayet in 2016.
“That is why, moreover, this group (Reliance) did not have to give me any thanks for anything. I could not even imagine that there was any connection to a film by Julie Gayet.”
Now, with former President of France Hollande saying that he is unaware of any pressure applied by the Indian government and Dassault too saying that there was no pressure, one wonders if the charge led by Congress would stick.