French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said he was not in power when India and France signed an agreement for 36 Rafale fighter jets, which has caused a political storm in India. The president made the statement at a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York, PTI reported.
“I will be very clear, it was a government-to-government discussion and I just want to refer to what Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi very clearly said a few days ago,” Macron told reporters “I do not have any other comment. I was not in charge at that time and I know that we have very clear rules.”
The French president, who assumed office in May 2017, emphasised that the deal was “part of a broader framework which is military and defence” coalition between the two countries, NDTV reported. “This one is very important to me because this is a strategic” coalition and not just an industrial relation, he added.
The Congress has urged the Central Vigilance Committee and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to investigate alleged irregularities in the deal. The Opposition party has been raising questions about the deal for months. On September 21, French media outlet Mediapart quoted Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed the name of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence for an offset contract with Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the jets. India’s Ministry of Defence, the French government and Dassault Aviation have contradicted his claim.