Arun Jaitley said a controversy was sought to be created on the basis of Hollande's comments (File)
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has expressed his views on the Rafale deal controversy that escalated after former French President Francois Hollande's comment, saying the truth can't have two versions. "A controversy is sought to be created on the basis of a statement made by the former French President Hollande, that the Reliance Defence 'partnership' with Dassault Aviation was entered at the suggestion of the Indian Government. In a subsequent statement the former President has sought to suggest that Reliance Defence emerged on the scene after the agreement with the Indian Government was entered into. He has, in a subsequent statement, said that he is 'not aware' if Government ever lobbied for Reliance Defence and that 'the partners chose themselves'. Truth cannot have two versions," Mr Jaitley wrote in a blog post today.
On Friday, French journal Mediapart quoted Francois Hollande as saying: "We did not have a say in this... the Indian government proposed this service group and Dassault negotiated with (Anil) Ambani group. We did not have a choice; we took the partner who was given to us."
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said in a blistering attack, saying PM Modi is silent on the controversy even as the former French president called PM Modi a thief.
Dismissing Rahul Gandhi's allegations, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that there was pressure for extraneous considerations and "bribe" for not finalising the Rafale deal during the UPA rule.
Here are the Highlights on Rafale deal controversy:
PM owes explanation on Rafale deal: CPI
The CPI urged PM Modi to "come clean" on the Rafale deal and explain why a private firm was selected as an offset partner for a French aerospace firm instead of the state-run HAL.
Insisting that Modi was "instrumental" in clinching the deal, CPI National Secretary D Raja said he owed an explanation and his 'silence' led to strong apprehensions that the government was hiding something.
PM Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after holding talks with then French president Francois Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris.
"The Prime Minister has to talk. He was directly involved in the deal. The fundamental question is why HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) was left out and they chose Reliance Defence," Mr Raja was quoted by news agency PTI.
Senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said the Rafale deal was the "largest defence scam in India" and urged the Centre to initiate a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the matter.
Mr Bhushan questioned how Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence, the Indian offset partner of French firm Dassault Aviation, could be involved in the project as "most of his companies are in debt."
"This is not only the largest defence scam in India, but is one where national security has been severely compromised. While the IAF wanted 126 flights, it was reduced to 36," Mr Bhushan said.
No question of the deal being scrapped.These jets are coming to India. They will enhance the combat ability of the IAF. By allegations, you don't prove anything: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
"Mr. Jait-LIE, Rafale Scam is a 'Crime Petrol Serial' involving rampant corruption that 'Court-Jesters' can't laugh off or spin away," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala writes on Twitter.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari reacted to Arun Jaitley's charges.
Rahul Gandhi has made an absurd suggestion that the interest of Indian soldiers has been compromised with. By whom? The UPA which delayed the acquisition which would have added to the Military's combat ability or the NDA which expedited the same at a lower cost: Arun Jaitley
The offset partner is selected entirely by the Dassault Aviation, the original equipment manufacturer, and neither the French Government and nor the Indian Government has any say in the matter: Arun Jaitley
M/s. Reliance Industries Ltd., in February, 2012, had entered into an MoU with Dassault Aviation. This was reported by the PTI on 12.2.2012. This was at a stage when the contract relating to 126 Rafale aircrafts, of which 18 were to be manufactured in France and 108 in India, was at an advance stage of consideration by the UPA Government. Rahul Gandhi's misplaced criticism could equally apply to the 2012 MoU: Arun Jaitley
No manufacturing is to be done in India. It is, therefore, erroneous for anybody to suggest that there is a 'partnership' in the supply of the 36 Rafale aircraft: Arun Jaitley
The French Government has stated that the decision with regard to the offset contracts of Dassault Aviation are taken by the company and not the Government. Dassault Aviation itself has suggested that they have entered into multiple contracts with several public sector and private sector companies with regard to the offset contracts and the decision is entirely theirs: Arun Jaitley
The French Government and M/s Dassault Aviation have categorically denied the correctness of the former President's first statement: Arun Jaitley says in his blog on Facebook