In a statement likely to have significant ramifications on the Rafale controversy, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier told CNBC-TV18 that the company chose Reliance Defence as its partner in the deal, and the Indian government had not forced the decision on the manufacturer.
Trappier said Dassault picked Reliance as its partner because the Anil Ambani-led company had land near the airport on the outskirts of Nagpur, where they could set up a production facility. He added that Dassault had been in discussions with both Reliance Defence and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and that HAL was aware of its discussions with Reliance.
Trappier's statements contradict former French president François Hollande's claim that Dassault Aviation had no choice in selecting its partner in the Rafale deal.
"The Indian government had proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor we were given,” said Hollande.
After Hollande's statement, Opposition parties had heavily criticised the NDA government, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi saying it was the first time that a former French president had called India's prime minister "a thief".
On Wednesday, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan moved the Supreme Court, seeking registration of an FIR into the Rafale deal between India and France, alleging "criminal misconduct" by top public functionaries.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 16:49:14 IST