In an interview to news agency ANI, Dassault CEO, Eric Trappier, has rubbished the allegations made by Congress President Rahul Gandhi of irregularities in the Rafale fighter jet deal. Dassault Aviation is the French company that has been contracted to develop 36 Rafale jets for India through an Inter Government (IGA) Agreement between the governments of India and France.
“I don’t lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true. I don’t have a reputation of lying. In my position as CEO, you don’t lie,” Eric Trappier said. Speaking about making Anil Ambani’s Reliance as an offset partner, Trappier said that it was their decision and that there were no pressure from the side of Indian government.
“The Rafale deal is clean and it was our decision to choose Reliance. Besides Reliance, we have 30 other partners. The IAF is supporting the deal because they need aircrafts to be at the top,” Eric Trappier said.
He further claimed that in final days of the deal, HAL said that they were not interested in the deal, “HAL said in the last few days of the deal that they were not interested to be part of the offset. It was my decision and the decision of Reliance to invest in a new private company.”, Trappier added.
In response to a question on Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s allegations that Dassault paid Rs 284 crore in alleged “kickbacks” to a Reliance firm to purchase land near an airfield in Nagpur, Trappier added, “I am sad to hear that. We have had a long experience with the Congress.”
“Our first deal was with India in 1953 was with Nehru, later other PMs. We are working with India, for Indian forces. We are not working for any party, we are supplying strategic products to IAF and the Indian government. That’s what is most important,” he added.
Moments after Trappier spoke out to ANI, the Congress reacted, calling the Dassault CEO a “co-accused” whose statements hold no value.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called the interview “dictated” and, “Manufactured lies can not suppress the Rafale scam.”
“First rule of Law – Mutual Beneficiaries & Co-accused’s statements hold no value. Second Rule: Beneficiaries & Accused can’t be Judge in their own case. Truth has a way of coming out,” Surjewala also tweeted.
The Rafale deal has run into controversy in India; the Congress has alleged that businessman Anil Ambani benefitted unduly from it, and that the Narendra Modi government was overpaying for the fighter jets.