Former French President Francois Hollande's claim that the Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had foisted Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence on French aerospace giant Dassault for offsets in the Rafale fighter jet deal triggered a nasty war of words Saturday.
Opposition parties have stepped up their attack on the Rafale deal, alleging that the government's "complicity, collusion and conspiracy" to benefit Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "crony friend" has been exposed following former French President Francois Hollande's comments.
"No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment", says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
While all 36 Rafale fighters are being manufactured in France, an offset requirement, which is a part of an all-Indian defence procurement worth more than Rs 2 trillion, requires French companies that build the Rafale - Dassault, Thales and Safran - to plough back 50 per cent of the contract value into Indian defence production. The government has been maintaining that it has no role in the selection of RDL by Dassault Aviation. The Modi govt has lied and misled Indians. He further denied the government's role in suggesting Reliance Defence as an offset partner for Rs 58,000 crore deal to purchase 36 aircraft.
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The Ministry of Defence put out a brief note on Twitter, saying that Hollande's statement is being verified even while neither the Indian nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision.
Citing media reports of February 2012, the ministry said that within two weeks of being declared as the lowest bidder for the procurement of 126 aircraft during the then UPA government, Dassault had entered into a pact for partnership with Reliance Industries in defence sector.
"The PM personally negotiated & changed the #Rafale deal behind closed doors".
The ministry said that Dassault Aviation has also issued a release stating that it has signed partnership agreements with several companies and is negotiating with a hundred odd other companies.
In its statement, Dassault Aviation said it has decided to make a partnership with the Reliance Defence in accordance with the policy of "Make in India". "Shame on you. You betrayed India's soul".
Congress president Rahul Gandhi called PM Modi "a thief" and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back at him and accused him of "helping Pakistan" by questioning the price of the fighter jets.
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Three more rivers are expected to swell to critical levels by Thursday as water begins flowing downstream toward the coast. On Tuesday, the storm's remnants were continuing to soak the mid-Atlantic region and southern New England with heavy rain.
Israel said on Thursday it would not halt strikes on Syria but would do more to "deconflict" them with Russian forces. Moscow has played a delicate diplomatic game of maintaining friendly ties with both Israel and Iran.
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Under the current design, the BFR will be 118 meters long, with a payload capacity of 1,100 cubic meters and 100 metric tonnes. To make his incredible journey, he will be aboard SpaceX's next spaceship, Big Falcon Rocket (BFX), which remains to be built.
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