Reports emerged late Wednesday night that picking Reliance Defence was “mandatory” for Dassualt Avaition for the deal of 36 Rafale jets.
Quoting French publication Mediapart, Indian media outlets reported that the Mediapart article said an internal document showed a top Dassault official explaining to its staff that the joint venture was a ‘counterpart,’ ‘imperative and mandatory’ to win the Rafale deal.
Former French president Francois Hollande had claimed in an interview to Mediapart last month that the Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence as the partner in the multi-crore rupee Rafale deal and France did not have a choice. Dassault had then clarified that the decision to partner with Reliance Defence was its own.
The opposition has accused the government of ignoring the state-run defence company Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to benefit Anil Ambani. Both the government and the industrialist have rubbished the charge.
Meanwhile, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman will begin a three-day visit to France on Thursday. Her visit comes in the backdrop of a huge controversy over the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation.
Sitharaman will also take stock of progress in the supply of 36 Rafale jets by Dassault to the Indian Air Force. There was indication that she may even visit the facility where the jets are being manufactured.