PM Modi is Right, It’s a Govt-to-Govt Discussion: Macron on Rafale
Asked about the controversy over the Rafale deal, in which the Indian government has maintained that it had no role to play in the choice of an offset partner, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday, 26 September, “Prime Minister Modi is right. That’s a government-to-government discussion.”
Earlier too, Macron had said that the Rafale deal was a "government-to-government" discussion and he was not in power when the multi-billion dollar agreement for 36 fighter jets was signed between India and France.
Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Macron was asked if the Indian government had at any point told France or Dassault – the French aerospace major – that they had to accept Reliance as the Indian partner for the Rafale deal.
India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one- and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019.
“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. I don’t have any other comment. I was not in charge at that time and I know that we have very clear rules.”Emmanuel Macron, French President, as quoted by PTI
This was Macron’s first comment on the issue.
Macron, who assumed the presidency in 2017, had emphasised that this is a government-to-government discussion and "this contract is part of a broader framework which is military and defence" coalition between India and France.
Hollande’s Comment Sparked Controversy
A huge controversy over the Rafale deal has erupted in India after a report in the French media quoted former President Francois Hollande as saying that the selection of the Indian company in the Rafale deal was done at the behest of New Delhi.
Hollande said that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for the French aerospace giant in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.
The Congress party recently raised several questions about the deal, including the rates, and accused the government of compromising national interest and security while promoting "crony capitalism" and causing a loss to the public exchequer.
The report quoted Hollande as saying:
Prime Minister Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after holding talks with the then French President Hollande on 10 April 2015 in Paris. The final deal was sealed on 23 September 2016.
The French government has said it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners.
In its statement, Dassault Aviation said the contract for supply of 36 Rafale jets is a “government-to-government agreement”, adding "it provides for a separate contract in which Dassault Aviation commits to make compensation investments (offsets) in India worth 50 percent of the value of the purchase."
The company also said its partnership with Reliance has led to the creation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint venture in February 2017.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)