NEW DELHI: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday asked Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to come up with a proper clarification over Rafale fighter jets controversy.
Owaisi's demand came after former French president Francois Hollande said that it was the Indian government who proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation for the deal and that he had nothing to do with it.
Speaking to ANI, Owaisi asked, "The people of India want to know who is lying. Is the French ex-President lying or our Prime Minister Modi is not saying the truth?"
"We want the Defence Minister to throw light on this," he added.
The Rafale controversy, on Friday, took a new turn when Hollande, who was the president of France from 2012 to 2017, reportedly said the Narendra Modi-led government proposed Anil Ambani's name for the deal.
"We did not have a say in that. The Indian government proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor we were given," Hollande was quoted by a French Journal, Mediapart.
Taking a dig at Anil Ambani, Owaisi said, "The ex-president of France says that the absurd contract was given on the condition of the Prime Minister of India that they will finalise this deal only if you give this absurd contract to 'X' person. The whole world knows who the X person is who has never manufactured even a single tyre leave aside aircraft or a motorcycle."
Hollande had said that Dassault Aviation was given no choice but to partner with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence for the offset clause in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
The Rafale jets were chosen during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tenure in 2012. Initially, India had planned to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France, with 108 others to be assembled in the country by the state-run aerospace and Defence company HAL.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government scrapped the UPA's plan in 2015 and announced that it would buy 36 "ready-to-fly" Rafale jets instead of seeking a technology transfer from France's Dassault Aviation and making the aircraft in India.