United Nations, Sep 26 : French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he was not in charge when the Rafael deal was made and that he would defer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter which he said was “very importanta to him.
“I was not in charge at that time but I know that we have very clear rules and this is a government-to-government discussion,” he said at a news conference here on Tuesday.
“I just want to refer to what Prime Minister Modi very clearly has said a few days ago and I (don’t) have any other comment,” he said.
He was replying to a question if France had been asked to use the Reliance group as the Indian partner for the Rafael deal made when Francois Hollande was the President.
As a part of the offset component of the deal to buy 36 Rafael costing about 7.87 billion Euros (or Rs 58,000 crore), the manufacturer Dassault was required to outsource to India about Rs 30,000 crore of business.
The Congress and the opposition have accused the government of inflating the cost of the jets and steering the business to a private company,
“This contract is part of a broader framework which is a military and defence relationship between India and France. And this one is very important to me because this is a strategic coalition and not just an industrial relation,” he added.
“I would be very clear that it was a government-to-government discussion,” he emphasised.
Macron took office last year in May while Modi announced the deal during a visit to France in 2015 and it was finalised the following year.
The controversy began when Hollande told a French publication that India had proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for the deal.