Freely chose Reliance for Rafale deal: Dassault Aviation issues clarification 

WION Web Team Delhi, India Oct 11, 2018, 08.39 AM(IST)

File photo of a Rafale fighter jet. Photograph:( AFP )

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The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal.

Dassault Aviation on Thursday clarified stating it freely chose the Reliance Group for the Rafale deal, news agency ANI reported. It also called Reliance a vital part of the deal noting that the deal came as a trade-off. 

"Within the framework of September 2016 Inter-Govt Agreement between France and India, Dassault Aviation sold 36 Rafale aircraft to India. In compliance with Indian regulations (Defence Procurement Procedure), Dassault Aviation committed to offsets worth 50% of the value of the purchase," Dassault Aviation noted in a statement. 

"In order to deliver some of these offsets, Dassault Aviation decided to create a joint venture. Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This joint-venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created February 10, 2017," it further added. 

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Meanwhile, French government sources told WION that the deal was not a trade-off and rubbished Mediapart report.

According to French government sources, the definition of 'offset partner' led to confusion and Mediapart is "putting a story where there is none." 

A French media report on Wednesday claimed that an internal report of French aerospace major Dassault Aviation was presented with no option but to tie-up with Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as offset partner.

The report further said that it was 'imperative and mandatory' for Dassault Aviation to bag the Rafale jets contract.

The claim was made by French publication ‘Mediapart’ in an investigative report. 

Last month, former French President Francois Hollande was quoted by 'Mediapart' as saying that France was given "no choice" on the selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance to partner with the French aerospace giant. The former French president's comments triggered a massive political row.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after talks with Hollande on April 10,  2015  in Paris. The final deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.

Sitharaman's visit to France comes in the backdrop of a huge controversy over the procurement of 36 Rafale jets.

The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal, saying the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government when it was negotiating the deal.