The opposition party targeted the ministers a day after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted by a French publication as purportedly saying the Indian government proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as Dassault Aviation’s partner in multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal and France did not have a choice.
AICC spokesperson S Jaipal Reddy told reporters, “Mr Arun Jaitely and Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman both said, both in the House and outside, that they did not know…Government of India did not know. This has been proved to be wrong by the statement of former President of France (Francois Hollande).”
He alleged that the ministers “misled the nation” on the issue.
“I, therefore, demand that the two ministers who made false statements, though under the pressure of the prime minister, with regard to the role of the government in the choice of Anil Ambani’s company, should resign immediately,” Reddy said.
Hollande’s comments have given a new twist to the controversy as the Indian government has been maintaining it was not officially aware whom the Dassault Aviation selected as its Indian partner to fulfil offset obligations of the deal.
Reacting to Hollande’s reported remark that is at variance with the Indian government’s position, a Defence Ministry spokesman said Friday, “The report referring to former French president Hollande’s statement that Government of India insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified.”
The spokesperson had also said, “It is reiterated that neither the government nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision.”