Dassault CEO under Oppn lens over Rafale deal

Dassault CEO under Oppn lens over Rafale deal

Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Officer Eric Trappier. (Reuters file photo)

Dassault CEO Eric Trappier found himself in a political turmoil for his remarks seen as an attempt to give a clean chit to the Modi government on the Rafale fighter aircraft deal.

Congress leaders contested Trappier's remarks, made in an interview to ANI, as a “cover-up attempt” by the Modi government and reiterated their demand for an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee in the fighter aircraft purchase.

On Wednesday, former law minister Kapil Sibal contested Trappier's claims that the Rafale contract was a government-to-government deal contending that such agreements have taken place only with the US.

“In this case, the people who negotiated the deal were Dassault representatives along with (CEO) Eric Trappier himself and Ministry of Defence and Air Force officials and the only thing that happened was that the Government of France gave a confirmation letter that negotiations were held with Dassault,” Sibal told reporters here.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused Trappier of being complicit in corruption over the Rafale deal.

“These are questions the CAG, Supreme Court and CBI should answer. Not the French CEO of a company making money on this deal or the PM - all of whom are complicit in the corruption,” Yechury said referring to reports about the Dassault CEO rejecting allegation of lying on the fighter aircraft deal levelled by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Sibal also disputed Trappier's argument that Dassault did not enter into an agreement with HAL because it did not have land.

“HAL had invited bids for new production facility way back in 2012 to construct a new integrated MMRCA complex with runway, hangar, new production unit and residential facilities for employees near Bangalore international airport. That means HAL had already applied and HAL had a lot of land around the Airport,” Sibal said.

The Congress leader said Dassault had refused to give an affidavit or undertaking on the number of man-hours required for manufacturing the aircraft, as HAL had claimed that 2.74 times man-hours would be used to manufacture the jet in India, as per a previous contract.

He also claimed that had Dassault given this undertaking, it would have become L-2 (second bidder in the list) in the deal.