Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said all allegations made about the Rafale deal between India and France were baseless, reported ANI. “There is no point raising controversies about the deal,” he said. “The defence ministry has released a statement that it is verifying the statement of former French President [Francois Hollande].”
Singh is the first Union minister to comment on Hollande’s statement.
Singh also advised Congress President Rahul Gandhi not to make allegations against the government without evidence, reported PTI. “One should think four times before levelling any baseless allegation,” he said. “One should not make allegations without proof.”
Hollande’s office on Saturday stood by his claim that his government did not have a say in choosing Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence for the Rafale deal, NDTV reported. Hollande’s comment came hours after the French government and defence firm Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the jets, contradicted his claim.
Hollande claimed the Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence’s name for the pact, which was agreed upon when he was president.
India agreed to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft worth Rs 59,000 crore from France after signing the deal in September 2016. Later that year, Reliance Defence joined the deal’s offset programme through Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd, in which it holds a 51% stake. Dassault Aviation owns 49% of the joint venture, which was announced in India in October 2016.
Soon after reports of the interview with Hollande were published, the spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of Defence posted a tweet saying the Mediapart article is “being verified” and reiterated that neither India nor France had any say in the commercial decision.