Reliance Defence Chairman Anil Ambani with Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier

In last four days, the multi-crore Rafale controversy has witnessed several twist and turns. Amid shrill debate over the combat jet deal between ruling BJP and the Congress, a latest revelation can potentially change course of events.

After explosive claims by former French President Francois Hollande, aviation major Dassault had said that it had chosen Reliance Defence and it stands by the decision. But why exactly did it choose a defence rookie with no prior knowledge about aircraft manufacturing? The reason, according to an anonymous Dassault official quoted by NDTV, was that Reliance Defence ‘had land in Nagpur, which provided access to runway’ and was registered with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. 

The NDTV report further said that Dassault Aviation started talking to Anil Ambani only after they got to know about transfer of Reliance Defence’s control from elder brother Mukesh Ambani to him. This was months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Rafale deal in 2015. 

The latest revelation comes after the clarification issued by the aviation major where it said that the government-to-government contract between India and France was separate from its negotiations with Reliance Defence. 

"This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation's choice...," the clarification said. 

Meanwhile, the political storm over the deal refuses to die . On Monday, the Congress sought to raise the pitch over the Rafale deal by approaching corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission, prompting the Narendra Modi government to launch a counter-attack.

The ruling BJP said it will fight the “perception battle” by reaching out to the people of the country, as it called the campaign against the efforts to acquire the French warplanes an international conspiracy.

While Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that that the facts will be put on record, Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the Congress campaign is an international conspiracy to cancel the purchase deal of 36 fighter jets from France.