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‘Cong misinformed, misdirected and misled on Rafale contract’

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on August 20, 2018 Published on August 20, 2018

Anil Ambani writes to Rahul again

Expressing deep anguish over the continued personal attacks by Congress President Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale offset exports contract, Anil D Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Group, has shot off a letter to him, claiming the Congress has been “misinformed, misdirected and misled” by malicious vested interests and corporate rivals.

On August 16, Rahul had hit out at the contentious Rafale deal and resolved to scrap it.

Terming all the allegations as “baseless, ill-informed and unfortunate”, Ambani sought to explain in a point-by-point rebuttal, the role of Reliance in the offset exports and work share arrangement with Dassault.

This is the second time the Reliance Chairman has written a letter to the Congress President over the joint venture with Dassault and the Rafale offset and export agreements.

The earlier one was in December last year, wherein he insisted that the decision by Dassault to choose Reliance as the joint venture partner was an independent agreement between two corporate private sector entities and that the Centre had no role to play in the matter.

Explaining that the Rafale fighter jets are not being manufactured by Reliance or the Dassault-Reliance joint venture, Ambani clarified in the new note that all the 36 planes are to be 100 per cent manufactured in France and exported to India.

Maintaining that “not a single component worth a single rupee is to be manufactured by Reliance for these 36 Rafale jets”, he went on to point out in the letter that the allegations “relating to ‘lack of experience’ are, thus, irrelevant”.

₹41,000-crore scam

The Congress has constituted a six-member task force to look into the Rafale deal ahead of the 2019 general elections, and has also reportedly prepared a strategy to expose the ‘scam’.

Alleging that the scam has cost the exchequer ₹41,000 crore, the Congress has alleged that a newcomer (Reliance Defence) has been given a foothold in the defence sector, even as the deal has been snatched away from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

Export obligations

Insisting that Reliance’s role is merely to offset exports and export obligations, Ambani maintained in his note that more than 100 MSMEs are to participate in the contract, along with public sector undertakings like BEL and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

“This role strengthens Indian manufacturing capabilities, and is in pursuance of the Offsets Policy introduced by the Congress-led UPA government from 2005 onwards,” he further pointed out in the letter.

“There is no contract from the Ministry of Defence to any Reliance Group company related to 36 Rafale aircraft,” he said. “Allegations of Reliance benefiting by thousands of crores is a figment of imagination, promoted by vested interests. Simply put, no contract exists with the Government of India,” he insisted.

Recalling Rahul’s allegation that Reliance Defence was set up 10 days before the April 10, 2015 announcement in Paris by both the governments about the purchase of 36 French-manufactured Rafale jets, Ambani said it was “factually incorrect information...and completely false”.

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Published on August 20, 2018
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