In what looks like a U-turn, former French President Francois Hollande seems to have backtracked from his earlier claim on Rafale deal that Narendra Modi government had proposed the name of Indian partner for Dassault Aviation, who is responsible for making the fighter aircraft. According to news agency AFP, Hollande said that France “did not choose Reliance in any way”.
The former French president, as per the AFP report, denied any conflict of interest with Reliance, which reportedly financed a film produced by his female friend Julie Gayet in 2016.
"That is why, moreover, this group (Reliance) did not have to give me any thanks for anything. I could not even imagine that there was any connection to a film by Julie Gayet," AFP quoted Hollande as saying.
Earlier, Hollande had that it was the Modi government that proposed the name of Indian partner for Dassault.
“We didn’t have a say in that. It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us,” French news website Mediapart.fr quoted Hollande, who held the office of President of France until Emmanuel Macron succeeded him in May 2017, as saying.
The revelation supported the claim of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had been saying for long that there was a massive scam in the deal and contradicted government’s stand that it had no say in deciding the Indian offshore partner for Dassault.
However, the Defence Ministry rejected Hollande’s claims and maintained that the alliance between the Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation was a commercial pact and neither the Government of India nor the French government had played any role in this.