New Delhi: After the French government and Dassault Aviation contradicted former President Francois Hollande’s claim in choosing Indian industrial partners in the multi-million dollar Rafale jet deal, the Congress on Saturday said the French statement “conceals more than it reveals”.
“The French statement conceals more than it reveals. The French government knows verbal interactions between former President Francois Hollande and Indian interlocutors are minuted and would emerge. “Speculation of French Parliamentary hearing into Rafale and access to administration documents under France’s Freedom of Information Law 1978 rife,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari tweeted. “What French government/corporate entity has just ended up doing is making Rafale procurement a veritable domestic issue in French politics also. By saying Hollande is being economical with truth they have set the stage for facts/documents to become a torrent.”
Countering the attack, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Minister Ananth Kumar tweeted: “Nailing the lie on its head — misinformation about Rafael deal, Dassault being called out by the French government.” The statement by the French government issued here late Friday came after Hollande’s reported claim that the Indian government suggested a particular private firm for Rafale offset contract. In response to the claim, the statement said: “The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being or will be selected by French companies.”
Dassault Aviation, the makers of the Rafale jets, in a statement also on Friday night, said: “This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of ‘Make in India’, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation’s choice.” The deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 and signed in 2016.
The UPA government was earlier negotiating a deal to procure 126 Rafale jets, with 18 to come in flyaway condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL under licence. The Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner for offsets and that the government had no say in the deal.