'Unnecessary controversies being created', says MoD on Rahul Gandhi's Rafale attack

"Never before in history of independent India, has a party president used such words for a PM. We can't expect anything else from Rahul Gandhi. He has no quality or ability, he's there due to his family," Prasad said at a media briefing.

'Unnecessary controversies created', says Defence Ministry on Rahul Gandhi's Rafale attack
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (FILE PIC/Facebook page)
By: ABP News Bureau
Updated: 22 Sep 2018 06:46 PM
New Delhi: Issuing a fresh rebuttal, the Ministry of Defence on Saturday alleged that "unnecessary controversies are being sought to be created following media reports regarding a statement purportedly made by the former French President, Francois Hollande, concerning the selection of Reliance Defence as the Offset partner by Dassault, the manufacturers of Rafale aircraft."

Standing by what it said earlier, the defence ministry reiterated that it had "no role in the selection of Reliance Defence as the Offset partner."


Injecting a new twist in the Rafale fighter jet deal between the governments of India and France that created a political storm in India on Friday , former French President Francois Hollande told a French investigative journal that New Delhi proposed Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the India partner for the 36 Rafale jet deal with the French government being given no choice on the matter.

The ministry led by Nirmala Sitharaman released the statement after Rahul Gandhi ratcheting up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said former Hollande has called him (PM Modi) a "thief" in the Rafale deal and sought a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the issue.

Questioning Modi's stoic silence on the matter,Gandhi asked him to come clean on whether Hollande was telling the truth or not.

"For the first time, an ex-French President is calling our PM a thief. It is a question of the dignity of the office of Prime Minister. It is the question of the future of our jawans and the Air Force. It is very important for PM now to either accept Mr. Hollande's statement or state that Mr. Hollande is lying and tell what the truth is," Gandhi said in a press conference Saturday afternoon.

Leaping to MoD's defence was Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad who criticized Gandhi for making irresponsible statements against the prime minister.

"Never before in history of independent India, has a party president used such words for a PM. We can't expect anything else from Rahul Gandhi. He has no quality or ability, he's there due to his family," Prasad said at a media briefing.

Read complete statement:  Clarification on Offset Policy by Ministry of Defence

Unnecessary controversies are being sought to be created following media reports regarding a statement purportedly made by the former French President, Francois Hollande, concerning the selection of Reliance Defence as the Offset partner by Dassault, the manufacturers of Rafale aircraft.

The reported statement perhaps needs to be seen in its full context – where the French media has raised issues of conflict of interest involving persons close to the former President.  His subsequent statements are also relevant in this regard.

The Government has stated earlier and again reiterates that it had no role in the selection of Reliance Defence as the Offset partner.

For a rounded appreciation of this matter, it may be worthwhile to briefly dwell upon why and how Offset Policy came into play.  The Offset Policy was formally announced for the first time in 2005 and has been revised several times.  To leverage its huge arm-imports in order to develop a strong indigenous industry, a flow-back arrangement is made in the defence contracts, which is widely known as offsets, and constitutes a certain percentage of the contract value.  The key objectives of the Defence Offset Policy is to leverage the capital acquisitions to develop Indian defence industry by fostering development of internationally competitive enterprises; augmenting capacity for research and development in defence sector and to encourage development of synergistic sector like civil aerospace and internal security.  The offset can be discharged by many means such as direct purchase of eligible products/services, FDI in joint ventures and investment towards equipment and transfer of technology.  As per Defence Offset Guidelines, the foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is free to select any Indian company as its offset partner.

It has been reported that a JV between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation came into being in February, 2017.  This is a purely commercial arrangement between two private companies.  Incidentally, media reports of February, 2012 suggest that Dassault Aviation, within two weeks of being declared the lowest bidder for procurement of 126 aircraft by the previous Government, had entered into a pact for partnership with Reliance Industries in Defence sector.

Dassault Aviation has issued a Press Release stating that it has signed partnership agreement with several companies and is negotiating with hundred odd other companies.  As per the guidelines, the vendor is to provide the details of the offset partners either at the time of seeking offset credit or one year prior to discharge of offset obligation, which in this case will be due from 2020.

In view of above, it is once again reiterated that the Government of India has no role in the selection of Indian Offset partner which is a commercial decision of the OEM.

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