Rafale row: Dassault clarifies, says it chose Reliance

alyan Ray
Last Updated : 22 September 2018, 10:20 IST
Last Updated : 22 September 2018, 10:20 IST

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France on Saturday clarified that the French government had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as an offset partner in the Rs 59,000 crore government-to-government contract to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from Dassault Aviation for the Indian Air Force.

At the same time, Dassault Aviation, too, clarified that it chose Reliance Defence as a partner in the Rafale deal.

“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,” says the statement issued by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

The clarification comes within hours of the former French President Francois Hollande dropping a bombshell by claiming that Paris had little choice in deciding the Indian partner with Indian government pushing for Reliance in that role.

The statement by Hollande, given in the course of an interview to a French website, adds fuel to the Congress and other parties’ ongoing relentless attack on the Rafale deal on the charges of “crony capitalism” and corruption.

Countering the charges, the French spokesperson says, “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 for the offset projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard.”

“Agreements have already been signed French companies with many Indian firms, both public and private, under the framework of Indian laws. French government’s obligation lies solely with regard to ensuring the delivery and quality of the equipment,” it adds.

The fighter jet’s manufacturer Dassault Aviation, too, distanced itself from Hollande's claims.

“The offset contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure 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,” the company says in a statement.

The French aviation giant says Reliance is not the only partner in this project. “Other partnerships have been signed with companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini and Samtel. Other negotiations are going on with a 100-odd potential partner,” it says.

The Dassault-Reliance partnership led to the creation of the joint venture company Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited in February 2017. Reliance set up a plant in Nagpur to manufacture parts for Falcon and Rafale aircraft.

The Nagpur site was chosen because of the availability of land with direct access to an airport runaway, an essential condition for aeronautic activities.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was in Egypt for a bilateral meeting when the charges made by Hollande became public.

“The report referring to former French President Hollande’s statement that Government of India insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for Dassault Aviation in Rafale (deal) is being verified. It is reiterated that neither Government of India nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision,” the defence ministry had tweeted on Friday.

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Published 22 September 2018, 08:05 IST

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