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It’s a surgical strike on defence forces by PM Modi, Anil Ambani: Rahul Gandhi on Rafale deal

After getting embroiled in the latest controversy over Rafale, the French government and Dassault Aviation have issued clarification.

SNS | New Delhi |

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday upped his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and businessman Anil Ambani in connection with the Rafale issue saying they jointly carried out a “surgical strike” on the defence forces.

Gandhi’s latest jibe in the string of attacks came a day after a French media report quoted former French President Francois Hollande as purportedly saying the Indian government proposed Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale jet fighter deal and that France did not have a choice.

“The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out … SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defence forces. Modi Ji you dishonoured the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul (sic),” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after holding talks with then then French President Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris.

The Opposition has been accusing the government of choosing Reliance Defence over state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to benefit the private firm that did not have any experience in the aerospace sector.

After getting embroiled in the latest controversy over Rafale, the French government and Dassault Aviation have contradicted former President Francois Hollande’s claim with regard to selecting the industrial partner from India in the multi-million dollar Rafale jets deal.

In response to the claim, the Friday night statement of the French government 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, also issued a statement on Friday night. “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,” said the company.

The Paris-based company said the partnership between the two giants led to the creation of the “Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint-venture in February 2017.