'Modi Recommended Reliance, France Had No Choice'

India's Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

India's Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Soon after the deal was made, the Congress accused the ruling government of corruption and cronyism in the multi-billion dollar deal. Then when the government changed, the Indians reformulated their proposition, less attractive for us because it was for 36 aircraft only.

"We did not have a say in this", Hollande was quoted by the website as saying.

"The Indian government proposed this partner and Dassault negotiated with Ambani", Hollande said, according to the report posted on September 21 that referred to the Ambani family, who are dominant in the Indian business world. It has insisted that it has no role in Dassault's choice of a commercial partner. I am telling him to clear the air. It may be A, B or C, it may be 70 different partners, it may be buying a product, they may be investing, it may be buying a service, so where am I in it?

"Rahul Gandhi has called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is a symbol of honesty, a thief. Whatever he tells, and claims about obligation fulfilled, I have to hear them out". How can this be so? Logically, Reliance Aerostructure Limited would have taken an industrial licence to produce aircraft parts under the Industries (Development and Regulation Act) 1951 before Dassault chose them as their JV partner.

Poll Risk With Modi soon to face elections, the opposition's allegations about the Rafale deal could dent his popularity. It brings under strain the Narendra Modi government's attempts to distance itself from the selection of a company belonging to Anil Ambani's Reliance group as an offset partner by Dassault, maker of the fighter planes. That doesn't, however, make it a lie. With such comments directly coming from the former French president, tempers arose in India between the government and Opposition.

Party spokesperson Manish Tewari tweeted: "President (former) Francois Hollande should also enlighten us how the price went up from 590 crore in 2012 to 1690 crore in 2015 per Rafale fighter jet?"

French journalists indicate this makes further intervention by Hollande nearly inevitable.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday questioned former French president Francois Hollande over his claims that India proposed a private company to partner with the Dassault Aviation for procurement of 36 Rafale jets. "This in no way contradicts Hollande's statement that New Delhi selected Ambani", said one observer.

Well past midnight, PTI quoted the government of France, for which the Rafale deal is vital, as saying "it is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners" for the deal.

There was, moreover, the gleam of the real goldmine for the French aerospace industry in terms of the exorbitantly-priced air-to-air Meteor and air-to-ground Scalp missiles, and spares and servicing support assuring 75% serviceability beyond the first 10-years of the Rafale's presence in the IAF fleet (as mandated in the contract). 24 April 2015 was a Friday. There was a one-on-one meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the former president of France.

Late on Friday night, the French government issued its own carefully worded "denial". In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group.

Another contentious point under the news deal was the joint venture struck between Anil Ambani's newly formed defence company and Dassault Aviation.

"Both Modi and Nirmala Sitharaman must accept moral responsibility, order a parliamentary probe and quit their official positions in the Union Cabinet to save the country's image, domestically and internationally", the CPI said, as it asked the Chief Justice of India to suo motu order a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the deal.

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