Modi Govt Can Share Rafale Deal Details With Opposition, France’s Macron Tells India Today
March 9th, 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron in his recent interview with India Today has encouraged the Narendra Modi Government to counter opposition’s charge of irregularities in purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters.
Macron, who is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Friday, said, “ If Narendra Modi government wants to divulge some of the critical information covered under the secrecy clause of the deal, France will not object to it.”
“When a deal involves extremely sensitive business interests, it is not desirable to give out details of such a pact. The details of the commercial agreements should not be made known to rival companies as doing so may hamper the interests of the firms, and hence, secrecy is justified,” he added.
He emphasized that secrecy clause is there because of commercial agreement related to technical issues.
The Rafale deal had been in the continued attacks by the opposition party led by the Congress. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had questioned the government over maintaining secrecy regarding the Rafale Jet fighter deal with France and alleged that the deal for 36 fighter jets is a ‘Great Indian Mystery’. He even slammed the Modi government for brewing up a huge scam and for being involved in massive corruption.
Indian Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman had earlier refused from disclosing any details before the parliament saying that the details were classified information.
Gandhi took to Twitter, saying, “It becomes a matter of national security if the government informs the parliament about the price of the jets. Anyone who asks the same would be branded anti-national.”
The central government is facing fire from the opposition party for the deal it struck over 36 Rafale jets.
On the other hand, notwithstanding the deal of 36 Rafale fighter jets that was struck with the previous French government at $7.8 billion, Macron has been seeking to push for at least 100-150 more Rafale jets under ‘Make in India’ during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Reportedly, the French Defence Minister Florence Party has already pushed for a follow-on order during his last visit to India, to which India remained ‘non-committal’.
Also, the French are pushing India to go for another program in which a production line would be set up to address the needs of the Indian Air Force as well as augment defence exports from India.
Macron would be accompanied by CEOs of almost all top French defence firms, including the chief of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier; Chairman and CEO of Naval Group Hervé Guillou; Thales CEO Patrice Caine; and Safran Group CEO Philippe Petitcolin.
On his visit to India
The bilateral summit-level meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Macron is scheduled on Saturday. While all issues concerning India-France Strategic Partnership will be discussed, the two biggest issues between the two countries in recent years, i.e., cooperation in defence and nuclear energy sales, is going to be the primary focus.
Other than this, Obstacles holding up the long-delayed sale of six nuclear reactors will also be discussed. Moreover, Macron is set to announce plans to allow Indian navy ships to use French bases in the southern Indian Ocean where New Delhi remains wary of Chinese expansion in an area that it sees as its strategic backyard.