Dassault CEO has categorically rubbished kickback allegations made by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi

Istres-Le Tube Airbase: Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Trappier has said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will get the first delivery of Rafale fighter jets in September 2019 as per the contract. 

The Dassault top executive said that ''the delivery is totally in time.''

Trappier said this in an exclusive interview to ANI during which he categorically rubbished kickback allegations made by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi had earlier alleged that the Dassault CEO lied about the details of the Dassault- Reliance Joint Venture (JV) for offset contracts in the Rafale fighter Jet deal.

"I don't lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true. I don't have a reputation of lying. In my position as CEO, you don't lie," Trappier said when asked to respond to Rahul Gandhi's charge that Dassault was covering up for possible cronyism in awarding the offset deal to Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.

In a press conference on November 2, Rahul had alleged that Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company promoted by Anil Ambani which was used to procure land in Nagpur. 

"It is clear the Dassault CEO is lying. If an inquiry starts on this PM Modi is not going to survive it. Guaranteed," he added.

Trappier said that they had prior experience dealing with the Congress party and the comments made by the Congress president made him sad.

"We have a long experience with the Congress party. Our first deal was with India in 1953 with Nehru and other Prime Ministers. We have been working with India. We are not working for any party. We are supplying strategic products like fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Government. That is what is most important," said Trappier.

When pressed further for the reason behind Dassault`s choice of Reliance as an offset partner which had no experience in manufacturing fighter jets, Trappier clarified that the money being invested was not going to Reliance directly but in a Joint Venture (JV) that included Dassault.

"We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV. I put my know-how free of charge on how to produce people. I have engineers and workers from Dassault who are taking the lead as far as the industrial part of this deal is concerned. At the same time, I have an Indian company like Reliance who is putting money into this JV as they want to develop their country. So the company is going to know how to produce aircraft," Trappier said.

Trappier clarified further about the investments being made by Dassault, adding that Reliance would match the amount since the shareholding pattern is 49% Dassault and 51% Reliance as per prescribed Government norms.

"We are supposed to put in this company together about Rs 800 crore as 50:50. For the time being, to start work in the hangar and to pay workers and employees, we have already put Rs 40 crore. But it will be increased to Rs 800 crore, which implies Rs 400 crore by Dassault in the coming five years," said Trappier.

It is to be noted that the Rahul Gandhi's party has launched an all-out attack on the Narendra Modi government alleging widespread corruption in awarding the contract to Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the offset partner of the French defence manufacturer.

The Congress party has Rafale deal as the country's biggest defence scam till date.

On its part, the Narendra Modi government has dismissed all allegations of favouritism and corruption and said that the Rafale deal was finalised within the legal framework.

As directed by the Supreme Court, the Centre also recently submitted the details, including the price of the Rafale jets, in a sealed cover to the top court.