No role in picking Reliance, says France

No role in picking Reliance, says France

PTI file photo. NDTV reported on Saturday that Hollande’s office said he stood by his comments.

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 contract to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from Dassault Aviation for the Indian Air Force.

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

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

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

AFP reported on Saturday that Hollande told it on the sidelines of a meeting in Canada on Friday that France “did not choose Reliance in any way”.

When asked whether the Indian government had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Hollande said he was unaware and “only Dassault can comment on this”.

NDTV reported on Saturday that Hollande’s office said he stood by his comments.

The statement by Hollande, given in the course of an interview to a French website, has added fuel to the relentless attack by Congress and other parties’ over the deal.

Countering the charges, the French government spokesperson 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.” 

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

Meanwhile, Dassault Aviation said in a statement, “The offset contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 regulations.”