11/10/2018 12:27 PM IST | Updated 11/10/2018 12:27 PM IST

Deal With Dassault A Trade-Off? Here's A Breakdown Of Events In The Rafale Jet Controversy

A French media report alleged last night that choosing Reliance Defence was made mandatory for Dassault.

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French news website Mediapart reported late on Wednesday that Dassault Aviation had chosen Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the offset partner in India as a "trade-off".

According to several reports, Mediapart got this information from an internal document of Dassault Aviation, which makes the Rafale fighter jet.

The Congress-led Opposition has been attacking the Narendra Modi government on the issue over the last few months.

Here are the latest updates.

NDTV reported that the Mediapart article said that the chief operating officer of Dassault Aviation, Loik Segalen, told its staff on 11 May 2017 that the deal was a trade-off and choosing Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence was mandatory to win the Rafale contract.

— Dassault Aviation, however, has denied the report, saying in a statement that it has "freely chosen to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group".

The statement further read, "In compliance with French regulations, Chief Operating Officer Loïk Segalen informed, May 11, 2017, the Central Works Council of the creation of the DRAL joint-venture in order to fulfil some of the offsets commitment."

— Amid reports of the alleged trade-off, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flew to France on Wednesday to hold talks with French counterpart Florence Parly.

PTI reported that Sitharaman may visit the facility where the Rafale jets are being manufactured to check progress.

— Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday asked the centre for details of the steps taken in the decision-making process that led to the Rafale deal with France. This was while hearing PILs filed on the issue.

— In September this year, former French president Francois Hollande had also alleged that it was the Indian government that had proposed Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the India partner.

— After Hollande's comments, the BJP, denying the allegations, had claimed that the Congress was conspiring with foreigners to defeat Modi in the 2019 elections. Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, "The Congress is misleading the nation and demoralising the Indian Air Force by comparing the prices of a bare aircraft, which the UPA was supposed to purchase, with a fully-loaded aircraft, which the NDA has purchased."

— In July this year, the Congress had also alleged that Ambani's Reliance Defence was set up only days before the Rafale deal. The Indian Express had reported Congress leader Randeep Surjewala as saying that while Reliance Defence was set up on 28 March 2015, 12 days before the deal was announced. He had also said that Reliance Aerostructure Ltd was incorporated just 14 days after the announcement of the Rafale deal.

— The Modi government and ministers have maintained that the allegations levelled by the opposition were false.