Opponents of the Modi government had accused it of tweaking the contract to benefit a particular business house - the Reliance Defence of Anil Ambani - to be the "offset" partner of the French makers of the aircraft, Dassault Aviation. "Shame on you. You betrayed India's soul". The government had categorically denied the accusation saying it had no role to play in the choice of the French company's Indian partner. "It is very important for the PM now to either accept Hollande's statement and say that he is telling the truth or that Hollande is not telling the truth and here is the truth", Gandhi said. Though much of his presidency and political career is remembered for his close alliances with many of his female colleagues in the Socialist party and elsewhere, Hollande had also been in charge under whose watch the Rafale deal was signed. He says that in the meeting with the prime minister he was told that this was his only option. In fact, the French ministry's statement merely confirmed a part of what Hollande had purportedly said - that his government had no say in the matter. The defence minister should resign and an investigation should be launched to find who got the Rs 36,000 crore. Escalation of a mere 1,100 crore. "I am sure the Euro equivalent would not be a problem to calculate".
However, contradicting this, defence sources on Thursday claimed disagreements between HAL and Dassault Aviation had led to the collapse of negotiations between the two in the Rafale fighter plane deal during the UPA term. Dhingra has also said the lack of fighter jet manufacturing experience was irrelevant since the jets are being delivered by Dassault in "fly away" condition. "We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor we were given", said Hollande.
This contract is a government-to-government agreement.
For that, the French firm picked Reliance and not Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the state-run giant that has been producing planes for decades, a lot of them Russian under license. "This time by then President of France, Mr Hollande", said P. Chidambaram, former finance minister, to CNBC-TV18.
"In accordance with the Indian procedure, French companies have full freedom to choose the Indian industrial partners they consider to be most pertinent and then to propose to the Indian government for approval the offset projects they want to carry out in India with local partners to respect their obligations", it added. "It is reiterated that neither GoI nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision".