NEW DELHI: Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Officer Eric Trappier on Tuesday strongly defended the Rafale deal and rubbished the Congress’ allegations that he was lying about the details of the Dassault-Reliance Joint Venture (JV) for offset contracts.
“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,” Trappier told ANI in an exclusive interview.
He was responding to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s charge at a press conference on November 2 that Dassault was lying about the offset deal with the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.
Claiming that Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company promoted by Anil Ambani, Rahul had said: “It is clear the Dassault CEO is lying. If an inquiry starts on this, Modi is not going to survive it. Guaranteed.”
The interview comes a day after the government told the Supreme Court that it had scrupulously followed procedures and norms while negotiating the deal.
Expressing sadness over Rahul’s remarks, Trappier said: “We have a long experience with the Congress party. Our first deal was with India in 1953 with Nehru and other prime ministers. We have been working with India. We are not working for any party. We are supplying strategic products like fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Government. That is what is most important.”
As for the JV with Reliance, “We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV. I put my know-how free of charge on how to produce people. I have engineers and workers from Dassault who are taking the lead as far as the industrial part of this deal is concerned. At the same time, I have an Indian company like Reliance who is putting money into this JV as they want to develop their country. So the company is going to know how to produce aircraft,” he said.
Eric Trappier also said that the 36 aircraft bought by India by the Modi government were nine per cent cheaper than the cost negotiated by the UPA government.
He also said that the “price of 36 (jets) was exactly the same when you compare with 18 flyaway. 36 is the double of 18; so as far as I was concerned, it should have been double the price. But because it was government to government, there was some negotiation, I had to decrease price by 9 per cent. The price of Rafale in flyaway condition is less expensive in the 36 contract than the 126 contract.”
He also clarified that the 36 aircraft being produced for India would not have the weapons and missiles. “The weapons will be sent in different contract. But the aircraft with everything other than weapons will be dispatched by Dassault.”
The Congress, however, was not convinced. Rahul Gandhi once again took to twitter to attack PM Modi. “Modiji has admitted to his theft in the Supreme Court. In the affidavit, he admitted to changes in the contract without asking the Air Force and put `30,000 crore in Ambani’s pocket. The picture is still not over my friend,” Rahul tweeted.