Former French President Francois Hollande on Friday dropped a bombshell on the Rafale jets deal with India and France by revealing that the decision to choose Anil Ambani as the offset partner was at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He told a French news portal Mediapart, “The Indian government proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us. That’s why, on the other hand, this group did not have to give me any thanks for anything. I could not even imagine that there was any connection to a film by Julie Gayet.”
Later the news portal also confirmed to India Today that the content of its interview with Hollande was true. Left red-faced, the Indian defence ministry spokesperson tweeted saying that it was verifying the revelations amde by Hollande, with whom Modi had personally signed the deal.
Its tweet read, “The report referring to former French President Mr. Hollande’s statement that GoI insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision.”
Meanwhile, the response from some of the hardcore Modi supporters suggest that there is no escape route for the BJP-led central government on the Rafale scam. Chitra Subramaniam, a known supporter of the BJP and editorial advisor to Republic TV, first called Hollande ‘motormouth’ while advising journalists to employ ‘care’ in taking his words seriously.
However, faced with condemnation and public ridicule, even she quickly changed her stance and wrote, “I read the interview in French. The piece on Indian websites correctly saying if true …( I don’t have the exact words). That the only break. As for calling him motormouth do read about what the French call him. He may still be right, hence, care.”
Another known supporter of Modi, writer Chetan Bhagat, too tweeted calling the revelation ‘serious.’ His tweet read, “Indian Government Chose Anil Ambani For Rafale, with no choice – Says ex-French Prez Francois Hollande, according to news reports. This is a serious charge and about time our government verified and clarified this, and did it fast.”
Even Times Now channel couldn’t stop itself from asking, albeit with visible reluctance, “Is Rafale a liability for NDA?”
Of course, the other usual suspects in media have chosen to stay quiet as they struggle to decide whether it’s time for them to come out in the open and ask the Modi government some much-needed difficult questions.
Meanwhile, Twitterati are hailing Janta Ka Reporter and Ravi Nair, who wrote the three-part investigative series exposing the corruption in the Rafale deal. Janta Ka Reporter in its three part series last year had first exposed the scam in the purchase of Rafale jets from the French company Dassault aviation. (You can read them here Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3).
– @RifatJawaid called me asking permission to publish my blog. The piece was refused by many to publish and it was put out as a blog. He deserves to be congratulated.
Salute, Rifat 😉
— Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) September 21, 2018
— Stinger™ (@imStinger01) September 21, 2018
Other so-called defence correspondents just equivocated till the end. We all know who they are ? https://t.co/H0wGog9xxN
— Angshukanta (@angshukanta) September 21, 2018
— Silent Assassin (@ConfuzedGenius) September 21, 2018
— Akhilesh Tripathi (@antripathi101) September 21, 2018
— Aadil Khan (@AadilKh58583599) September 21, 2018
— Abhisar Sharma (@abhisar_sharma) September 21, 2018