France Rejects Congress' Claim of Rafale Deal Scam, Reliance Defence Threatens Legal Action
(Source: India Today; published Nov 16, 2017)
By Geeta Mohan
NEW DELHI --- France has rejected outright allegations of scam in the Rafale fighter jet deal levelled by the Congress party.

On Tuesday, Congress had alleged that a "huge scam is brewing" in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets by the Modi administration.

Speaking to India Today, a French diplomatic source said that while he would not want to comment on India's internal politics, there was no wrongdoing in France's signing the deal to provide India with fighter jets. "I'm not going to get into matters of domestic politics. And I strongly believe that this is a issue of India's internal politics. But this fighter jet has been selected for its outstanding performance and competitive price", the official said.

At a media briefing, Congress' communications department head Randeep Surjewala had said that complete non-transparency, flagrant violation of mandatory provisions of the defence procurement procedure, sacrificing of national interests on transfer of technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and blatant promotion of financial interests of crony capitalist friends of PM had marred the aircraft deal.

CHECK FACTS BEFORE ALLEGING SCAM: FRENCH OFFICIAL

The French official challenged those accusing the two nations of a scam to check the facts, adding that not only was the process of selection transparent, but the move would also help develop India's defence sector. "On the issue of news, check the facts. There are some pointless theories being floated. Just check the facts. This definitely is a matter of domestic politics", he said.

The official added, "The aircraft was selected through a fully transparent and competitive process. There are 50 per cent of offsets which are going to contribute positively towards development of India's defence sectors. There will be many Indian stakeholders and players and these offsets are going to strongly contribute in the defence sectors of India."

The Congress alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government had caused an "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money in signing the deal for 36 Rafale aircraft from France for Rs 58,000 crores (7.8 billion Euros).

While the Congress did not give out any details to back its allegation that a "scam was brewing", the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited has threatened to sue the opposition party if it does not retract its charge that it was unfairly picked to be the French firm's partner.

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