Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh said on Saturday that former French president Francois Hollande's remarks on the Rafale aircraft deal have proved it was a "big scam".
The Rajya Sabha MP's remark on the purchase of 36 fighter jets from France came a day after Hollande was quoted by the French media as purportedly saying that the Indian government proposed Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000-crore deal and France did not have a choice.
The report in Mediapart, a French language publication, quoted Hollande as saying, "It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us."
Addressing a press conference in Nagpur, where Reliance and Dassault will jointly build a plant to produce aircraft parts, Singh said, "The statement made by former French president Francois Hollande on the Rafale deal is shocking and it proves that the Rafale deal is a big scam." "The Modi government should tell why the offset contract was given to Reliance Defence. Hollande's statement proves that the Narendra Modi government favoured Reliance Defence in getting the offset contract," he said.
Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 percent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.
Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, had chosen Reliance Defence as its partner to fulfill offset obligations of the deal, which includes generating business worth Rs 30,000 crore in India.
The Dassault Aviation clarified that the government-to-government contract between India and France was separate from its negotiations with Reliance Defence. It said that it "chose" the private sector firm and the city of Nagpur for setting up the plant for manufacturing parts of the aircraft. "This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation's choice..."
Singh also claimed that a joint statement issued by Modi and Hollande in 2015 has come to the fore now and it showed that there was no change in the technology of the aircraft in the new deal. "It is the same technology as was finalised during UPA-II," he said.
He said the government should reveal why the cost of Rs 540 crore per aircraft went up to Rs 1,670 crore and the offset contract was given to Reliance Defence, formed 12 days before the announcement of the Rafale deal. "The country suffered losses to the tune of Rs 36,000 crore...about Rs 1,000 crore per aircraft. It is the biggest scam in defence deal that the country has ever seen," Singh said.
He alleged that the statement made by Hollande proved that the Modi government proposed Reliance Defence for the offset partner, dropped Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (H.A.L) and thus favoured Reliance. "The prime minister should clarify on this aspect. The defence minister should resign and an investigation should be launched to find who got the Rs 36,000 crore... A JPC probe should be initiated," Singh demanded.
The AAP leader also said that his party will contest upcoming elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, and on 80 to 100 seats in next Lok Sabha polls.
With inputs from PTI