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Dassault Papers Show Picking Anil Ambani Firm Was 'Mandatory' to Seal Rafale Deal: French Report

This comes just a day ahead of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s 3-day visit to France, where she is expected to discuss the progress of the Rafale jets in the making.

Updated:October 11, 2018, 11:17 AM IST
New Delhi: In yet another explosive investigative report, French publication ‘Mediapart’ on Wednesday claimed an internal report of Dassault Aviation shows the firm had considered signing Reliance Defence was “imperative and mandatory” to bag the Rafale jets contract.

This comes just a day ahead of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s 3-day visit to France, in which she will be taking stock of the progress of the big budget purchase of 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore, among other talks.

The French journal report states, “… a document obtained by Mediapart shows that Dassault considered this alliance as a ‘counterpart’, ‘imperative and mandatory’, to win the contract.”

The report further states that a presentation made by Dassault’s deputy chief executive officer Loik Segalen to the company's representatives here referred to signing Reliance Defence as a "trade-off" to bag the Rafale contract.

This comes even as the Congress on Wednesday kept up its attack on the Modi government of "manipulating" the process of Rafale fighter jet agreement by "punishing" bureaucrats who raised objections to the deal and rewarding "obliging officials".

Congress President Rahul Gandhi also raised questions on Sitharaman's France visit.

Taking to Twitter, Gandhi alleged that "work has begun" to justify the prime minister's decision to buy Rafale fighter aircraft.

In an earlier interview with former French President Francois Hollande, Mediapart had quoted him as saying that Paris had no choice of selecting its Indian counterpart for the Rafale deal.

The report quoted Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for French aerospace giant in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.

The Dassault Aviation has chosen Reliance Defence Ltd (RDL) as the Indian partner to fulfil offset obligations of the deal and both companies have already announced setting up of a joint venture to manufacture aerospace components.

The opposition parties led by Congress have been accusing the NDA government of favouring Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence over state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The government has been maintaining that it has no role in selection of RDL by Dassault Aviation.

The report had also said that Ambani's Reliance Entertainment had signed an agreement with Hollande's partner Julie Gayet to produce a film before the Rafale deal was sealed. Hollande, who was France's president when procurement of 36 Rafale jets was announced in April 2015, rejected the earlier report.

| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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