‘Rafale IGA protects Indian interests’: French Envoy
The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between France and India for the sale of Rafale fighter jets to the air force has in-built provisions to ensure that Indian interests are protected, ambassador of France to India Alexandre Ziegler said on Thursday.
His comments came a day after the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report held that the deal for 36 Rafale jets was 2.86% cheaper than a previous one for 126 jets. “There is nothing stronger in our system that protects the deal and India’s interests than the IGA,” Ziegler said at a time when the Rs 59,000-crore deal has been criticised for not having the safeguard of financial and performance guarantees.
India floated a global tender in August 2007 to buy 126 planes but it stood cancelled after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in April 2015 that India would buy 36 Rafale planes from France under a government-to-government deal. The two countries concluded the IGA in September 2016.
“In our system, when a government signs a deal under its name, we are responsible as a government for price and delivery,” the French diplomat said. He added that France was committed to strengthening its ties with India and 49 French firms, including Dassault Aviation, would be taking part in Aero India-2019 scheduled to be held outside Bengaluru next week. Three Rafale jets landed in Bengaluru on Wednesday to take part in the air show.
With the general elections scheduled in summer, the Congress has been repeatedly attacking the government for allegedly awarding the deal for 36 Rafale fighters to Dassault only on the condition that it would stitch up an alliance with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group for meeting its offset obligations. The government, Anil Ambani’s company and Dassault have rubbished the allegations.
Reiterating the French government’s stand, Zeigler said there was absolutely no pressure on France from India to pick any particular offset partner. “The governments have nothing to do with it. Companies choose their offset partners,” he said.