New Delhi: In a new twist to allegations of corruptions in Rafale aircraft deal, former French President Francois Hollande said Reliance's Anil Ambani was never their choice and his name was proposed by the Indian government as a partner which Dassault Aviation accepted.
“We didn’t have a choice. We took the partner that was given to us,” French newspaper Le Monde’s south Asia reporter, Julien Bouissou, quoted Hollande in a Twitter post tagging the French version of the report..
Former French President François Hollande contradicts the Indian government. According to him, Anil Ambani (Reliance Defence) was not chosen by Dassault : "We didn't have a choice. We took the partner that was given to us" #Rafalehttps://t.co/YX1rMQlqvk— julien bouissou (@jubouissou) September 21, 2018
The report published by French news website mediapart.fr quoted Hollande as saying, “The Indian government proposed this service group and Dassault negotiated this with Ambani.”
The paper added the statements by Hollande sharply contradicted the version being put forward by the Modi government, which has maintained that Dassault alone had chosen Anil Ambani’s Reliance as the Indian partner.
Hollande was the French president when the inter-governmental agreement between France and India for 36 Rafale aircrafts was announced by Modi in April 2015.
If Hollande’s statements are correct, it would sharply contradict the line taken by the Modi government over the deal in which 36 aircrafts were purchased at a rate which Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged was 03 times more than what the erstwhile UPA government had finalised.
In the face of opposition attack over the selection of Anil Ambani’s company over HAL, senior Modi government ministers have maintained that the process of choosing Reliance Defence as an offset partner for the Rafale deal was a purely commercial decision that was driven by Dassault Aviation.
Responding to the Hollande bombshell, the Indian Ministry of Defence put out a statement on Friday evening saying that the Mediarpart report was “being verified” and that “it is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision”.
Meanwhile, responding on Hollande's latest statement, Congress leader Manish Tewari urged him to also ‘enlighten how the price went up from 590 crores in 2012 to 1690 crores in 2015 per Rafale fighter jet?’
“Escalation of a mere 1100 crores. I am sure the Euro equivalent would not be a problem to calculate,” Tewari said in a message posted on Twitter.
Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan repsonded in these words. “This is explosive! Former French President Hollande, with whom Modi signed the new deal for 36 Rafale planes, says that the French & Dassault had no say in selecting Ambani as the partner (commission agent?) For the deal! Was recommended by Modi. Is this also secret Modiji?” he wrote on the micro blogging site.
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