Note: This piece has been updated with the statement of former French President François Hollande to AFP news agency where he said that only Dassault can comment on the Rafale deal.
The usual suspects, based on a reported statement of former French president Francois Hollande published by a French media agency Media Part, raised a huge political storm on September 21, 2018.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi who said former French President Francois Hollande was involved in ‘globalised corruption’ suddenly found Hollande’s statement valid and was even being thankful to the same person he called ‘corrupt’ a few days ago.
However, the French government itself released an official statement which said:
The French government says, “The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners”.
Hollande said “we had no say in it”.
There is no question of having a say in it as the French government itself says it does not choose the partners for the French companies.
The press release also says, “French companies have full freedom to choose the Indian partner companies that they consider to be the most relevant”
The obvious corollary to this is that the Indian government too did not have any say in Dassault’s choice of offset partners and Dassault was free to choose.
Meanwhile, Dassault aviation has also released a statement on September 21, 2018, which said, Reliance is Dassault’s choice, which means there was clearly no role of the Indian government in this. Their CEO, in an interview published in the Mint newspaper, in April 2018 had already explained the same.
Hence, both the French government and Dassault have contradicted Hollande and are clearly saying the exact same thing that the Indian government has maintained from day one – that the Indian government had no say in who Dassault’s offset partners would be. It is interesting to recall at this junction that Congress president thanked the former French president having already called him corrupt few days back.
Anyhow, Rahul Gandhi looks totally discredited on this issue after Hollande’s statement to Agency France Press reported in the evening of September 22, 2018. According to the report, he claimed that he’s unaware of any pressure to choose Reliance and that “only Dassault can answer.”
As noted in this article Dassault has already answered and made it clear that the company entered into an agreement with the Reliance company and neither the Indian government nor the French government had any role in it.
Thus, once again, Rahul Gandhi’s attempt to create a controversy undermining national security concern got exposed. Previously, he had blatantly lied on the floor of the house claiming that the French President had told him that there is no secrecy clause in the deal. This irresponsible behavior of Congress President had forced the French government to issue an immediate official rebuttal back then.
You may read about that episode in our previous article Rahul Gandhi’s farrago of lies in Lok Sabha During No-Confidence Motion Fact-Checked.