Picking Reliance was mandatory, says French report

Picking Reliance was mandatory, says French report

French media outlet Mediapart on Wednesday claimed it had accessed an internal document of Dassault Aviation which showed that the joint venture with the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence was an “obligatory trade-off” and “mandatory” for the Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal to materialise.

The sensational disclosure was made on the eve of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s flight to Paris where she will have bilateral talks with her French counterpart and discussions with Dassault Aviation executives on the progress in the Indian contract.

While the Mediapart report is in French, rudimentary initial translation suggests that Dassault considered the alliance with Reliance Defence as an “obligatory trade-off”, “imperative” and “mandatory” to enter the lucrative Indian defence market.

“Sensational! The No. 2 person in Dassault in an internal document said the Rs 21,000-crore offset contract to Ambani’s company was a quid pro quo for obtaining the contract. This confirms (Francois) Hollande’s statement that Modi forced the French to give the offset contract to Ambani for getting the contract,” tweeted Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhusan, a vocal critic of the Rafale deal.

Ever since the controversy broke out, the Central government steadfastly maintained that it played no role in the selection of Reliance Defence as an offset partner for Dassault as it was a purely commercial decision between two business houses.