France was given only Anil Ambani as choice for Rafale offset deal: Ex-French President Hollande

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French journal Mediapart said, quoting Hollande, that it was India that proposed Reliance’s name

The Hush Post: Dassault Aviation was given no choice but to partner with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group for the offset clause in the deal as per a French journal which quoted the former president of France François Hollande.

Ambani-controlled Reliance Infrastructure Ltd has a 51:49 joint venture with Dassault—the maker of Rafale—called Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), which has an offset contract of about ₹30,000 crore for 36 Rafale aircraft. Under an offset policy, foreign companies selling goods to the Indian government or state-run firms are made to source part of the supplies locally. The Economic Times has also run a story endorsing what the French media portal wrote.

India quickly responded, saying that neither its government nor the French government had any say in what it called a commercial decision.

French journal Mediapart said, quoting Hollande, that it was India that proposed Reliance’s name. Dassault had no choice but to partner with the company given to it. French journalist Julien Bouissou tweeted parts of the interview that was done in French.

“We did not have a say in that. The Indian government proposed this service group and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor we were given,” ANI quoted Hollande as saying.

Reliance Group did not respond to an email seeking comment. Though, in the past, Anil Ambani did write to Rahul Gandhi without being asked a question on Rafale deal

The report drew a response from India’s defence ministry in the evening. “The report referring to former French President Mr Hollande’s statement that the government of India insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither the government of India nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision,” it tweeted.

Reliance Group did not respond to an email seeking comment. Though, in the past, Anil Ambani did write to Rahul Gandhi without being asked a question on Rafale deal.

The purchase of the 36 Rafale jets, which are slated to be inducted into the Indian Air Force from September 2019, is in the midst of the controversy. The Congress has questioned the price and the choice of Reliance as the offset partner.

Hollande’s reported statement contradicts India’s claim that the deal between Dassault and Reliance was a commercial pact between two private parties and the government did not intervene.

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