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Rafale row: PM Modi must clarify on allegations by former French President Hollande, says Rahul Gandhi

A French media report had earlier quoted former French President Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: September 22, 2018 16:42 IST ]

Rahul Gandhi

Lambasting the BJP government over Rafale row, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday demanded a clarification from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he must speak up on former French President Francois Hollande's statement. 

Gandhi, while addressing a presser on Saturday, launched an all out attack on the prime minister and said Hollande called Modi a "thief."

"PM should make his position clear now. He has not spoken even a word on former French President Hollande's statement, who has called the Indian PM a thief," he said. 

"We are absolutely convinced that the Prime Minister of India is corrupt. I just want a clarification from the PM, I want him to say if Hollande is not right," he added. 

A French media report had earlier quoted former French President Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.

Following the media report, the government of France said, “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.”

"The intergovernmental agreement signed on 23rd September 2016 between the French and Indian governments for supplying India with 36 Rafale aircraft concerns the obligations of the French government solely with regard to ensuring the delivery and quality of this equipment," a statement issued by the French government.

"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. 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 the offsets projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard," it added.

According to a French publication, President Hollande had said, “it was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”

Asked who selected Reliance as a partner and why, Hollande replied, "We had no say in this regard."

Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, had chosen Reliance Defence as its partner to fulfill offset obligations of the deal. The government however, has been maintaining it did not have any role in selection of the offset partner by Dassault.

In a statement, Dassault Aviation said it has decided to make a partnership with the Reliance Defence in accordance with the policy of 'Make in India'.

"This partnership has led to the creation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint-venture in February 2017. Dassault Aviation and Reliance have built a plant in Nagpur for manufacturing parts for Falcon and Rafale aircraft," the company said.

The French government 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, then present for the Indian government's approval the offsets projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard."

The French government said the inter-governmental agreement it signed with India for supplying 36 Rafale aircraft concerns its obligations solely with regard to ensuring the delivery and quality of the aircraft.

"As it happens, agreements have already been signed by French companies with many Indian firms, both public and private, under the framework of Indian laws," the statement said.

Watch Full Video: Rahul attacks PM Modi, demands clarification

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