#RafaleDeal: RaGa demands probe against PM, calls him 'corrupt man'
Congress President Rahul Gandhi today demanded an investigation against PM Narendra Modi's role in the Rafale deal, alleging that he is a "corrupt man". Gandhi's demand for a probe came a day after a report in a French publication said Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale, had to choose Reliance Defense as its offset partner in India as a trade-off for getting the deal.
Gandhi says Sitharaman's France trip is a 'huge cover-up'
The Congress President, however, did not provide any evidence to back his allegations against the Prime Minister and also described Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's three-day trip to France from today as part of a "huge cover-up" by the Government on the Rafale deal. Meanwhile, the Modi-led Government has been insisting it had no role in Dassault's choice of Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence.
French media says Dassault Aviation forced to partner with Reliance
Yesterday, French investigative publication Mediapart, citing an internal document of Dassault Aviation, reported that the aerospace giant was forced to enter into a joint venture with Reliance Defence as part of a trade-off to bag the contract for the 36 Rafale jet deal.
Dassault counters media report: Says Reliance was 'freely chosen'
In its reaction following the Mediapart report, Dassault Aviation said, "In compliance with the Indian regulations (Defense Procurement Procedure), Dassault Aviation has committed to offsets in India worth 50% of the purchase value." "In order to deliver some of these offsets, Dassault Aviation has decided to create a joint-venture and has freely chosen to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group," it said.
Earlier Hollande had said they were given no choice
Last month, Mediapart quoted former French President Francois Hollande as saying that France was given "no choice" on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian Government proposed the name of the Indian company to partner with the French aerospace giant. The report triggered a massive political-row with Congress escalating its attack on the Government and the latter firmly rejecting the charges.
Congress alleged massive irregularities in deal
The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal, saying the Government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs. 1,670cr as against Rs. 526cr finalized by the UPA government when it was negotiating the procurement of 126 Rafale jets. The Opposition parties have alleged Reliance Defence was formed just 12 days before the announcement of the Rafale deal in 2015.
Congress also asked why State-run HAL wasn't involved in deal
Reliance Group has also rejected the charges by the Opposition. The Congress has also asked why State-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal as finalized during the UPA. Gandhi said Modi helped Anil Ambani pocket Rs. 30,000 crore from the deal.
Dassault, Reliance to set up joint manufacturing venture
Meanwhile, both Dassault and Reliance Defence have already announced setting up of a joint venture to manufacture aerospace components and fulfill offset obligations for the Rafale deal. Under India's offset policy, foreign defense entities are mandated to spend at least 30% of the total contract value in India through the procurement of components or setting up research and development facilities.
Dassault also to partner with BTSL, Mahindra, Kinetic
Dassault, the French aerospace major, said partnerships have also been signed with other companies such as Better Teamwork for Success Life, Gurugram-based DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, and Satish Kumar Kaura-founded SAMTEL. "Other negotiations are ongoing with hundred-odd other potential partners," it said.