Just look at facts, not tweets: French Envoy on Rafale deal

Bengaluru: Commenting on the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal, Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, on Thursday asserted that people should go by “facts and not the tweets.”

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here, Ziegler, when asked about the ongoing controversy over Rafale deal, said, “My very short and simple answer to that is, just look at the facts and not at the tweets.”

Congress has been accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government of irregularities in the high-profile defence fighter jets contract, alleging the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was procuring aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore each as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

In 2012, during the UPA’s tenure, India had planned to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France, with 108 others to be assembled in the country by the state-run aerospace and defense company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). BJP-led NDA government scrapped the UPA’s plan and announced that it would buy 36 “ready-to-fly” Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.

On November 14, the Supreme Court had reserved its verdict on the filed petitions that demanded a court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal in which the central government bought 36 ready-to-fly jets in a government-to-government deal with France.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government of ousting HAL as Rafale’s offset partner and choosing Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited to save the company’s debt-ridden chairperson and his business.

Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Trappier, in an exclusive interview to ANI earlier this month, had rubbished allegations made by Gandhi that the former lied about the details of Dassault-Reliance Joint Venture (JV) for offset contracts in the Rafale Jet deal.

“I don’t lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true. I don’t have a reputation for lying.

In my position as CEO, you don’t lie,” said Trappier when asked to respond to Rahul Gandhi’s charge that Dassault was covering up for possible cronyism in awarding the offset deal to Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.

Gandhi, at a press conference on November 2, had alleged that Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company promoted by Anil Ambani, which was used to procure land in Nagpur. “It is clear the Dassault CEO is lying.

If there an inquiry in this regard, Modi is not going to survive it. Guaranteed,” he said.