Amid the raging storm over Rafale deal, Former French President Francois Hollande issued a clear denial on Saturday and said he was 'unaware' on India putting pressure for taking Reliance on board for the deal.
When asked by French news agency AFP whether India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Hollande said he was “unaware” and “only Dassault can comment on this.”
The former French President also said that France did not choose to partner with Indian businessman Anil Ambani's company in "any way", adding, "that is why, moreover, this group (Reliance) did not have to give me any thanks for anything,"
Earlier, an article in a French journal triggered a massive controversy as it had a statement of Hollande purportedly saying that it was the Indian government that proposed Reliance's name and Dassault had no choice but to take the company given to it.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence issued yet another statement on Rafale controversy, reiterating that the Government of India had no role as far as selecting the offset partner for the commercial deal is concerned. The statement has also mentioned that Dassault Aviation and Reliance were on the brink of striking a deal back in the year 2012 too when UPA was in power. While dubbing the row around Rafale as “unnecessary controversies, the MoD said the statement purportedly made by the former French President, Francois Hollande, concerning the selection of Reliance Defence as the Offset partner by Dassault, the manufacturers of Rafale aircraft needs to be seen in its full context.
Prior to this, Dassault Aviation, in a press release, had stated that to choose Reliance Group as a partner was its own choice. Furthermore, the French government has also dismissed former President Francois Hollande’s claim and mentioned it was a private to private negotiation.
Hollande's clarification comes even as the Congress has escalated the fight over Rafale. Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday demanded PM Narendra Modi’s statement on the French media report. Rahul Gandhi directly accused PM Modi of corruption and repeated his ‘chor’ attack and claimed that ex French President called him a ‘thief’.