Stepping up attack on the government over Rafale fighter jet deal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday described Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s trip to France as part of a ‘huge cover-up’ by the government. Responding to Rahul Gandhi’s charge, top MoD sources have told Republic TV that her visit was decided in March 2018 itself. The sources have told Republic TV that the visit was pre planned and since the French Defence Minister has already visited India, it was India’s turn to visit for talks.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be visiting the Rafale production unit in Argenteuil, France on Friday.
Rahul Gandhi attacked the government during the press conference following a report in the French media that Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale, had to choose Ambani's firm Reliance Defence as its offsets partner in India as a trade-off for getting the deal.
The government has been insisting that it had no role in the Dassault's choice of Reliance Defence.
Dassault Aviation said in a statement that it has "freely chosen to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group".
Furthermore, the French government has also dismissed former President Francois Hollande’s claim and mentioned it was a private to private negotiation.
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.
However, later blunting the opposition's claim on Rafale, Former French President Francois Hollande issued a clear denial 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.”
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