French publication Mediapart has till now published two misleading reports on the Rafale deal. First one came when it published a quote by former French President Hollande where he reportedly had said 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. As the controversy escalated, the French government issued a statement that the contract between the French and the Indian government was strictly related to the delivery and quantity 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.
OpIndia had then reported how the facts of the deal are being selectively ignored by the politicians to score a political point. We had explained how as per the offset obligations put by India, Dassault would have to fulfil offset obligations of 50% of total deal value in the forms of investment in India, purchase from India, or transfer of technology to Indian companies. As per the offset agreement, Dassault got into contracts with hundreds of companies including Anil Ambani led Reliance as well as state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Despite the clarifications, in less than a month, Mediapart again came up with another misleading report which claimed that deal with Reliance was mandatory for Dassault. The report quoted Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation Loik Segalen to have said, “It was imperative and mandatory for Dassault Aviation to accept this counterpart (offset partnership), in order to seal the deal to sell Rafale jet to India.” The quote appears to have been mischievously quoted since Dassault again had to reiterate though a statement that as Segalen said, it was indeed ‘imperative and mandatory’ for Dassault to accept the offset partnership, nowhere does it mention the offset partner has to be Reliance. In fact, as per French labour laws, any major decision taken by companies which may not lead to new employment generation for French workers, need to be informed to Central Works Council. The above statement by Segalen appears more of a message to the representatives of the union who were present there instead of an insinuation that they were arm-twisted into getting into a contract with Reliance for the contract.
This repeated misleading reports by the French media Mediapart, which were picked up and shared widely by various mainstream media as well as Congress leaders, made a lot of Twitter users wonder about the ulterior motives of the reports. Twitter user @bns5, in a series of tweets, showed how the owner of Mediapart, when the report came out last night, had reached out to certain individuals to spread the message.
— Edwy Plenel (@edwyplenel) October 10, 2018
He says that as soon as the article by Mediapart was out, the first one to share it was Noopur Tiwari of NDTV.
— Narayan (@bns5) October 10, 2018
An article on Plenel from April 2013 quotes a senior French radio journalist describing Plenel as, “vigilante not a journalist…someone who confuses journalism with personal vendettas and crusades.” His former colleagues at Le Monde, where he was an editor once, describe him as ‘tyrant’ and ‘bully’.
In March this year, Naëm Bestandji, a secular feminist activist, has accused Plenel of becoming a groupie of Marwan Muhammad, former director of Collective against Islamophobia in France, CCIF, who according to Bestandji, discriminates against people like him, (French of Maghrebi origin) and insults them in the name of ‘tolerance and anti-racism.’
This brings us to how and why are the mainstream media persons and Congress leaders so quick to believe a white man who seems to be having questionable credentials?