Billionaire businessman Anil Ambani wrote a letter to Congress President Rahul Gandhi in December, asserting that the government had no role in French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation selecting the Reliance Group as a local partner in the Rafale jet project.
In the Lok Sabha last week, Gandhi accused the Narendra Modi-led government of taking the deal away from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, just to benefit “a businessman who is under a lot of debt”. Ambani’s remarks had come after Gandhi made similar accusations during the Gujarat Assembly election campaign.
Ambani also refuted Gandhi’s allegations that the Reliance Group lacked experience to get the deal. “Not only do we have the necessary experience but we are also the leaders in several important areas of defense manufacture,” Ambani said in the letter written on December 12, PTI reported. The businessman said Reliance Defence has the largest shipyard in the private sector, and is building five Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Indian Navy, as well as 14 Fast Patrol Vessels for the Indian Coast Guard.
Ambani told Gandhi that the aircraft would be manufactured in France, and delivered on a “no fly away” basis to the Indian Air Force. He said Dassault had chosen Reliance only to offset the export obligation component of the agreement between the two companies, in which he said the Indian and French governments “had no role to play”.
“This joint venture with Dassault Aviation will lead to creation of thousands of jobs in India, imparting of valuable training and skill-sets to Indian engineers in aerospace/ defence manufacturing sector, and will also provide large scale business opportunities to hundreds of Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises and start-ups in the country,” Ambani wrote.
He added that the statements made by Gandhi and other Congress leaders about the deal had “saddened” the Ambani family. The Ambani family had enjoyed “a very respectful relationship” with the Gandhi family for four decades.
Ambani sent a similar letter to Randeep Surjewala, who is in charge of Congress’ communications, and some other unidentified party leaders, PTI reported.