Rafale Deal Row: Accusations baseless, says Rajnath after Hollande’s claim

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Saturday, tried to dispel the controversy surrounding the India-France Rafale jet deal.

Former French president, Fran├žois Hollande in an interview to a media house on Friday, contradicted Indian government’s claim that the agreement between Dassault and Reliance was a commercial pact between two private parties and the government had nothing to do with it.

Making his first comment on the issue since Hollande’s claims, Home Minister Singh told ANI, “It makes no sense to create a controversy over the Rafale issue. On the said utterance of former President of France, the Defence Ministry has already issued a statement and has stated that they are verifying it. It is my understanding that all accusations are completely baseless, were always so and will remain baseless”.

On Friday, in an article published by French journal, Mediapart, Hollande, said that Dassault Aviation was given no choice but to partner with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence for the offset clause in the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Responding to the interview, Defence Ministry spokesperson tweeted, “The report referring to former 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. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision.”

Later in the night, confirming India’s stand on the offsets agreement between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Group, the former, in a statement, reiterated that Reliance Group was chosen in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations.

It was after his talks with then-President Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris that Prime Minister Modi had announced the jet deal.

The claim by the former French president has given fresh ammunition to the Congress party, which has been mounting an attack on the government, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Modi.

Launching a blistering attack on Modi, senior Congress leader, Mallikarjun Kharge, told ANI, “It’s my personal demand that he (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is not suitable for the post and therefore he should immediately resign & appoint any cabinet minister as Prime Minister. He is morally not suitable for the post now.”