Former French President Francois Hollande on Friday caused a political natural disaster by revealing that it was the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who suggested the name of Anil Ambani as the Indian offset partner of Dassault Aviation in the Rafale deal.
"It is the question of dignity of office of PM, it is a question related to defence, future of our jawans, Air Force.
The report in "Mediapart" quoted Hollande as saying, "It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani". The government has been maintaining that it did not have any role in selection of offset partner by Dassault Aviation.
Today, the Defence Ministry said, "The report referring to former French president Mr. Hollande's statement that GOI [Government of India] insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified".
Accusing Rahul Gandhi of using his family name, Prasad said that the former has no quality or ability and nothing can be expected from him.
"The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption", said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
His comments on Friday stoked debate over a subject which has gained significant traction in India in recent weeks, since the opposition Congress party accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of favouring a private conglomerate over a public company in the aircraft deal.
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When Dassault Aviation says they formed a Joint Venture (JV) - Dassault Reliance Aerostructure Limited - with Reliance Aerostructure Limited, it is evident that this JV might have come into existence anytime between 25 April to 30 April 2015.
While the French government said French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the deal, Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, said it had made the decision to partner with Reliance Defence Ltd.
Hollande told AFP, the French news agency, on the sidelines of a meeting in Canada on Friday that France "did not choose Reliance in any way".
Well past midnight, PTI quoted the government of France, for which the Rafale deal is vital, as saying "it is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners" for the deal. "What is the new lie that the government will put out in response to Mr Hollande?", former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted. "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.
Gandhi said youth had faith in Modi.
India's defence ministry wrote on Twitter that neither the Indian nor French government "had any say in the commercial decision".
The statement further read, "This contract is a government-to-government agreement. We did not have a choice, we took the partner who was given to us".
The deal has become controversial with the Opposition, led by the Congress, claiming that the price at which India is buying Rafale aircraft now is Rs 1,670 crore for each, three times the Rs 526 crore, the initial bid by the company when the UPA was trying to buy the aircraft.