Day after a French media report cited a Dassault official as saying that partnership with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group was “mandatory” to win the contract with India for the Rafale aircraft, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the government of corruption.
“Earlier former French President revealed that Indian PM had told them that Reliance should get a deal. Now a senior official of Rafale has said the same. It is a clear cut case of corruption,” Gandhi said in a press conference.
He also questioned the reason behind Nirmala Sitharaman travelling to France to Rafale manufacturing unit on Wednesday night.
He also accused Dassault of supporting the Indian government in corruption.
“Dassault is sitting on a huge contract. Dassault will say what the Indian govt wants it to say. Their internal document clearly stated that PM has said without this compensation the deal will not be done,” he said.
Continuing his tirade against PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi said the “Prime Minister of India is a corrupt man”.
In an interesting turn of events, a French media report quoted an official in Dassault Aviation who said that partnership with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group was “imperative and mandatory” to win the contract with India for the Rafale aircraft.
Mediapart according to media reports, said it had obtained a document detailing a presentation that deputy chief executive officer Loïk Segalen had made explaining the reason behind choosing Reliance Defence for the deal.
“It was imperative and obligatory for Dassault Aviation, to accept this condition, in order to obtain the export contract for Rafale from India”, the French media report said.
Segalen’s remarks reinforce the statement made by former French president Francois Hollande that France did not have any role in the selection of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as India offset partner for Rafale-maker Dassault.
However, Dassault has declined the claim by the media report and reiterated that it had “freely chosen” Reliance Defence as the offset partner.
Dassault has maintained its stand ever since Hollande spoke on the deal.
The explanation from French plane maker comes even as Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman left for France on Wednesday night on a three-day visit. Sources say that Sitharaman will take stock of progress in the supply of 36 Rafale jets by Dassault.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after talks with the then French President Francois Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris. The final deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.