The Union Defence Ministry has denied any role of the government in the selection of Reliance Defence as offset partner in the Rafale deal, on Saturday. The ministry said,” Unnecessary controversies are being sought to be created over media reports regarding purported statement by former French president Francois Hollande”, adding that, “the joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation is a purely commercial arrangement between two companies.”
On Friday, the French government asserted that it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the Rafale fighter jet deal. It also said that French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the contract.
The French government made the statement following a French media report which quoted former French President Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000-crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.
“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,” it said.
The French government said, “In accordance with India’s acquisition procedure, French companies have the full freedom to choose the Indian partner companies that they consider to be the most relevant, then present for the Indian government’s approval the offsets projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard.”
The report in Mediapart, a French language publication, quoted Hollande as saying, “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”
Asked who selected Reliance as a partner and why, Hollande replied, “We had no say in this regard.”
The Congress has been accusing massive irregularities in the deal, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government when it was negotiating procurement of 126 Rafale jets.
The Congress has also alleged that the government was benefitting Reliance Defence through the deal as the company has set up a joint venture with Dassault Aviation to execute the offset obligation for the deal.
(With PTI inputs)