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 controversy, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had taken a step forward and alleged that it was PM Modi himself who had personally negotiated and changed the deal behind closed doors so that the ‘bankrupt’ Anil Ambani can earn billions of dollars.
The Indian ministry of defence then had released a statement that the report that claims Hollande’s statement regarding the deal is being verified and insisted that neither the Indian or French governments had any parts to play in the commercial agreement between Dassault and Reliance Defence.
The report referring to fmr French president Mr. Hollande’s statement that GOI insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified.
It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision.
— Defence Spokesperson (@SpokespersonMoD) September 21, 2018
As the controversy began escalating in both French and Indian media, the government of France released a statement saying that the deal signed on 23 December 2016 between the French and Indian governments for 36 Rafale aircraft is concerned solely with ensuring the delivery and quality of the aircraft. It further clarified that the French government had no role to play in the choice of Indian industrial partners and French companies have the full freedom to choose the Indian company they want to partner with.
Following the statement by the French government, Dassault Aviation had also released a statement regarding the allegations. The statement asserts that the Rafale deal was a government to government contract and it provided for compensation investments in India (offsets) worth 50% of the purchase value. It further explained that the partnership with Reliance Group was Dassault’s choice. It further included that Dassault has also signed partnerships with other companies such as Mahindra, SAMTEL, Maini, BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic etc and is presently involved in negotiations with a hundred other companies. Finally, it added that Dassault Aviation is very proud that India has chosen the Rafale fighter jets.
The Rafale deal is constantly being targeted as a political punching bag for opposition parties. Despite the government of India issuing several clarifications and the Defence Minister herself stating on record that no foul play has taken place during the deal, the issue just refuses to die down. The supreme court of India has accepted a petition over the scam allegations in the deal. Earlier, the government had stated that the details of the fighter aircraft and their specifications including pricing and other factors are a part of a confidentiality agreement and cannot be made public for the secrecy clause in the deal. However, the