French media portal Mediapart has claimed that it was in possession of a document by Dassault Aviation which said that an “alliance” with the Anil Ambani-led RelianceNSE -1.72 % Defence as a “counterpart” was “imperative and mandatory” to clinch the fighter jet deal with India.
The French media portal in its report said the Dassault Aviation’s document was based on what the aircraft manufacturer’s deputy CEO Loïk Segalen said during a presentation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace joint venture to staff representatives in Nagpur in May 2017.
The joint venture referred to was Dassault Reliance Aerospace (DRAL), which Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group had formed with Dassault, with the former holding 51 per cent and the latter 49 per cent of the equity. DRAL was set up just days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then-President François Hollande made the shock announcement in Paris, on April 10, 2015, that the IAF would buy 36 fully-built Rafale fighters from Dassault.
Opposition parties in India have charged the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with “crony capitalism” — alleging that government pressure was put on Paris to discharge offset obligations — worth 50 per cent of the value of the contract, or Euro 3.9 billion — through DRAL.
Defence Minister Sitharaman on 3-day visit to France
AMN / NEW DELHI
India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has left for Paris on a three-day visit to France. Officials sources said Ms Sitharaman will hold wide-ranging talks with her French counterpart Florence Parly on ways to deepen strategic cooperation between the two countries and also deliberate on major regional and global issues of mutual interests.
In their talks, both the leaders are expected to deliberate on joint production of military platforms and weapons by the two countries. French President Emmanuel Macron had visited India in March during which the two countries decided to expand strategic ties and deepen counter-terror cooperation. The two sides also inked a strategic pact providing for the use of each other’s military facilities including opening naval bases to warships.