Rahul Gandhi says Modi Govt targeted official who raised objections on Rafale deal

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at the Modi government for reportedly targeting a Defence ministry official who allegedly raised “objections” over the price of the Rafale jets.

He took to Twitter to take a swipe at Prime Minister Modi with a poem in Hindi alleging that he gave benefits to “crony capitalists” at the cost of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Rafale deal.

Gandhi also alleged that the officer who raised questions over the deal was penalized, while those who sided with the government were rewarded. He tagged a media report that alleged that the Defence ministry official who raised objections over the price of the Rafale jets “proceeded” on a month’s leave and the 36-Rafale deal was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council thereafter.

Citing the same media report, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, in a tweet, claimed that the Modi government “sent on leave the ‘whistleblower”, who questioned the loss to the state exchequer “by paying 300% extra for 36 Rafale”.

He also alleged that a senior officer, who overruled the official who raised questions over the Rafale jets pricing, was made a member of UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). “Perks of pleasing Modi govt cover corruption tracks,” he claimed.

The Rafale deal controversy took a new turn last week after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” in selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance Defence as offset partner for the French aerospace giant.

Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.

Congress leader Jaipal Reddy on Thursday alleged that French President Emmanuel Macron did not contradict Hollande’s claim on Rafale deal which was tantamount to the confirmation of his predecessor’s claim.

“It is for the first time that the present French president Macron while answering a specific question avoided the question. He said I was not incharge at that time. In other words, he did not contradict the version of former French president Hollande,” he claimed.

Even as the Congress steps up its attack on the government, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar told a Marathi news channel that people do not doubt PM Modi’s intentions and that the opposition’s demand to share technical details relating to the fighter jet made no sense.

BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Pawar’s statement and tweeted, “I thank Sharad Pawar, a former Defence minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth. Dear Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature.” He tagged the Congress president in his tweet.

Home minister Rajnath Singh asked Congress leaders to advise their chief against using “derogatory” language to target the PM, an apparent reference to Gandhi’s “chor” (thief) jibe at PM Modi in his tweet. “It is not Rafale. It is Ra-fail (Rahul-fail). He will be a failure. Rahul Gandhi is trying to mislead the people on the issue,” Singh said.

Source: Financial Chronicle

 

Rafale deal: Reliance got contract first, Maharashtra Govt gave land 3 months later

When the storm broke out after the former French president Hollande’s interview, Dassault Aviation which manufactures the Rafale aircraft stated that it selected Reliance Defence not under the pressure from the Indian government but because this company was registered under the Corporate Affairs Ministry of India and it had land in Nagpur which was closer to the runway.

But according to the information which has been revealed, the day when PM Modi announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft from France, that is on April 10, 2015, the Reliance Defence did not have any land at that time.

After the announcement of the Rafale deal on April 10, 2015, Reliance Defence gave a presentation to the Maharashtra government on June 2015 and demanded 289 acres of land in Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport SEZ area in Nagpur.

On August 28, 2015, the formal land allotment ceremony took place, during which Anil Ambani had announced that he would invest ₹6,500 crores in a large Greenfield Aerospace Equipment Manufacturing Centre near Nagpur. It was told that at this center, which would house Anil Ambani’s new fledgling company Reliance Defence Fixed Wing Aircraft, aero-structures for commercial transport aircraft and helicopters, which can be used in both defence and commercial sectors, will be built.

It was also informed that at the same center, the components required for providing the after-sales service of the aircraft would also be manufactured.Now, Dassault Aviation’s argument that one of the reasons behind choosing Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner was the availability of land falls through.It is significant to recall the timeline of the developments in this deal:

    • On April 10, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Paris that India will buy 36 Rafael fighter aircraft from France
    • Reliance Defence had come into existence only 12 days before this announcement
    • On April 13, 2015, the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar declares on Doordarshan that this deal has been done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he has supported it
    • In June 2015, Reliance Defence gives a presentation to the Maharashtra government and asks for the land
    • On August 28, 2015, after just 10 weeks, Maharashtra Government allots 289 acres of land to Reliance
    • On September 23, 2016, the agreement to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft between India and France is signed
    • On October 3, 2016, the joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation,the company that manufactures Rafale is announced

Once Anil Ambani’s firm got the land, Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, arrived in India and a programme was held in Nagpur during which Trappier laid the foundation stone of this joint factory. Apart from Trappier and Anil Ambani, the then French Defence Minister Florence Parly, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and the then French Ambassador to India Alexandre Zeigler attended this function.

On this occasion, Anil Ambani said that it (the deal and establishing the factory) would not have been possible without the constant support and help of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The most interesting thing about this entire event is that when India entered into a deal for buying 36 Rafale fighters from France in fly-away state, then why was the joint venture between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence created?

When the aircraft was not to be manufactured in India then why was the slogan ‘Make in India’ so harped about in this deal?

In fact, the entire matter seems to be going beyond these 36 Rafale aircraft.

After the sensational statement by Francois Hollande and the furor it created, explanations and justifications have been coming in from all corners and the recent clarification was given by the law minister on Saturday, September 22, that “36 aircraft are coming from France, rest will be manufactured here in India”.

What can be understood from this statement? That the deal is not for 36 aircraft but for more than that? Or has it been decided that in the future too, the purchase of new aircraft will be through this new joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation?

Source: National Herald

GOI told us take Reliance or No Deal: Former top Francois Hollande defence aide stands by ex-President’s statements on Rafale

A former top defence aide and one of the military advisers to the ex-President of France, Francois Hollande in an exclusive interview with IndiaScoops.com, has concurred and stood by the statements made by the former French Premier on the Rafale deal.

“I was aware and in the know of almost everything concerning the deal and what the ex-President said is absolutely correct and true,” he told IndiaScoops.com.

He also told IndiaScoops.com that there is great pressure from the Government of India (GOI) on the French establishment, the French government and Dassault Aviation to issue press statements favoring the decisions taken at that point in time.

The French government, the former French Premier  Francois Hollande and the entire Defence setup of France had absolutely no role to play in the selection of the Indian partner. It was a decision foisted upon us by the GOI, he told IndiaScoops.com.

According to one of Hollande’s former Defence adviser who spoke to  IndiaScoops.com, even Dassault Aviation was initially keen on going ahead with the Indian PSU HAL and was looking forward to partnering with HAL for tech-transfer and joint-manufacturing of the state-of-the-art fighter jet.

He supported the IndiaScoops.com story that the decision was  mysteriously changed at the last minute by Dassault CEO Eric Trappier (Read Here) and two other officials, in spite of written reservations by the HODs of the entire Dassault tech team, who had an animated discussion on email among themselves, about the pros and cons of working with a new inexperienced company like Reliance Defence Ltd, which lacked the expertise and experience to handle state-of-the-art classified military and aviation tech.

“Ask Dassault to produce the emails and internal assessment of their own teams and the entire matter will become crystal clear,” the former Defence expert told IndiaScoops.com on phone from Paris on condition of anonymity.

Also Read: Rafale Deal: Technical HODs at Dassault claim Reliance was never the first choice, decision to drop HAL was taken by CEO Eric Trappier at the last minute

Last week former French president Francois Hollande, who negotiated the Rafale deal with PM Narendra Modi, declared that it was the Indian government (GOI) who proposed Reliance — “we had no choice”, he said.

But a day later, he said that it was for Dassault to comment on whether it had been pressured to choose Anil Ambani’s firm as an offset partner — as part of the contract, Dassault has to invest 50 per cent of the overall value of the deal or Rs. 30,000 crore in partnering with defence manufacturers in India.

According to a report in The Wire, the former French President is understood to have told a publication: The new deal also included the offset agreement between Dassault and the Reliance Group, now the subject of controversy. How and by whom was the latter selected? “We didn’t have any say in this matter,” Hollande told Mediapart.

“It is the Indian government which had proposed this service group, and Dassault who negotiated with Anil Ambani. We didn’t have the choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us. That’s why, also, this group had no reason to give me any grace [favour] of any sort.