BJP slams Rahul Gandhi for attack on PM over Rafale deal

Dassault Rafale B of the French Air Force

Responding to the damning report in French media, Ministry of Defence tweeted, "The report referring to fmr French president Mr. Hollande's statement that GOI insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified".

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".

Francois Hollande's claims have been contradicted by both the France government and Dassault Aviation, the maker of the Rafale jet. To leverage its huge arm-imports in order to develop a strong indigenous industry, a flow-back arrangement is made in the defence contracts, which is widely known as offsets, and constitutes a certain percentage of the contract value. "This is Dassault Aviation's choice", the French company said. Senior ministers, including defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and finance minister Arun Jaitley, have dismissed any suggestion of a government role in the choice of Reliance.

"Dassault aviation is very proud that the Indian authorities have selected the Rafale fighter", it added. "We took the interlocutor that was given to us", he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.

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"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?". The Modi govt has lied and misled Indians.

The Narendra Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner for offsets and that the government had no say in the deal. The UPA government was earlier negotiating a deal to procure 126 Rafale jets, with 18 to come in flyaway condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL under licence. The BJP and the Congress are involved in a bitter war of words over the alleged corruption in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. Launching a tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he claimed that the PM had "waived off Rs 130,000 crore worth of loans taken by 15 richest people of India, but had refused to waive off poor farmers" loans forcing many of them to commit suicide.' During the same rally, in a matter of minutes, he changed the figure to Rs 150,000 crore.

"Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani", Gandhi wrote. "Shame on you. You betrayed India's soul". Calling the Rafale deal a Rs 1.3 lakh crore surgical strike on the Indian defence forces, Mr Gandhi said PM Modi "dishonoured the blood of our martyred soldiers".

Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help it build up its manufacturing base and wean it off imports. Reliance Defence & Aerospace president Rajesh Dhingra told The Economic Times on August 8 the allegations were "unfounded" and that Congress comments on Rafale were "a deliberate attempt to mislead".

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