Is Rahul Gandhi fudging numbers to malign Modi government?

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New Delhi:The French government Friday said it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the Rafale fighter jet deal, asserting that French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the contract. Not one word has come out from the PM's mouth on this.

French President Francois Hollande (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, January 25, 2016. Though much of his presidency and political career is remembered for his close alliances with many of his female colleagues in the Socialist party and elsewhere, Hollande had also been in charge under whose watch the Rafale deal was signed. "Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to.Anil Ambani", Rahul Gandhi, the president of the main opposition Congress party, said in a tweet. Out of around 75 listed firms, the makers of Rafale, Dassault Aviation, was allowed to choose any company it wants, the deal stated. With such comments directly coming from the former French president, tempers arose in India between the government and Opposition.

Attacking the government over its education policy, Mr Gandhi said government institutions should be given precedence over private institutions and the government should put money to strengthen them. And the then PM didn't announce from France that he "asked president to supply 36 aircrafts in fly away condition" without taking any mandatory and relevant approvals.

The French company said: "Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group". The "Defence Offset Guidelines" of DPP 2016, clause 4.1 in Indian Offset Partners (IOP) reads: "Indian enterprises and institutions and establishments engaged in the manufacture of eligible products and/or provision of eligible services, including DRDO, are referred to as the Indian Offset partner (IOP)".

On Twitter earlier on Saturday, Gandhi that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a Rs 1,30,000 crore "surgical strike" on the defence forces.

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"We had no choice".

Officials in India and France say Dassault had freely chosen to partner with Reliance, despite Ambani having no previous experience in the aeronautics sector.

"It is reiterated that neither GoI nor [the] French government had any say in the commercial decision".

The Congress chief has been repeatedly targeting the government over the fighter aircraft deal, alleging corruption and cronyism. The Congress has also alleged the government was benefitting the Reliance Defence through the deal as the company has set up a joint venture with Dassault Aviation to execute the offset obligation for the deal.

So far the French government, which has enormous economic and strategic stakes in letting the Rafale purchase go through smoothly, has remained silent on the Indian government's "nomination" of DRAL as a key offset partner.

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