A Rafale fighter jet performs during the Aero India air show at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, India, February 18, 2015. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The French government and Dassault Aviation have contradicted former President Francois Hollande's claim in choosing Indian industrial partners in the multi-million dollar Rafale jet deal.

The statement by the French government issued here late Friday comes after Hollande claimed that the Indian government suggested a particular private firm for Rafale offset contract.

Hollande was quoted in an article by a French website as claiming that the Indian government had asked the French government to nominate Reliance Defence as its India partner in the deal.

'No say'

"We did not have a say in this," Hollande was quoted by the website as saying. "The Indian government proposed this service group and Dassault negotiated with Ambani."

In response to the claim, the Friday night statement said: "The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being or will be selected by French companies.

"In accordance with India's acquisition procedure, French companies have the full freedom to choose their Indian partner companies that they consider to be the most relevant, then present for the Indian government's approval the offset projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard."

Dassault Aviation, the makers of the Rafale jets, in a statement also on Friday night, said: "This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of 'Make in India', Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation's choice."

The Paris-based company said that the partnership between the two giants led to the creation of the "Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint-venture in February 2017.

"Dassault aviation is very proud that the Indian authorities have selected the Rafale fighter," it added.

The deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 and signed in 2016.

The UPA government was earlier negotiating a deal to procure 126 Rafale jets, with 18 to come in flyaway condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL under licence.

The Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner for offsets and that the government had no say in the deal.

Here's a look at what people are saying on Twitter.

Journalist @sardesairajdeep tweeted: “As predicted, Dassault denial is here; now it’s Hollande versus Dassault! #RafaelDeal “

 

Author @chetan_bhagat posted on Twitter: “So now current the French government says something else vs. what ex-French president Hollande said on the #RafaelDeal. Looks like their politics is just as complicated as ours. With so many versions and few clarifications, impossible to form a view on this at this point.”

Many Twitter users continued to call the deal a scam. Tweep @ArunSFan posted: “We are sure for now #RafaelDeal is not a clean deal. But who benefited from all of this? I would say everyone involved. Why would any party in the deal, be part of a scam without the benefits. Bottom line, the money involved was of Indian tax payers. #RafaleScandal