In a recent interview to ANI’s editor Smita Prakash, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier reiterated that there have been no wrongdoings in the modified medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA)- Rafale Jet deal, and rubbished the allegations of corruption levelled against the Modi government by the opposition parties, including the Congress. While the BJP welcomed this emotive tug-driven interview of the Dassault CEO, the Congress slammed it as “manufactured lies” and the opposition called it a frustrated attempt to sweep the mammoth defence scam beneath the carpet.
A web of lies and concocted tales are manufactured by a nefarious nexus between the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, the Dassault Aviation company and the French government to undo the damage caused by the exposure of the Rafale Jet scam, which is now reviewed by a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent trip to France was actually an attempt to tamper with evidence, witness and everything else regarding the Rafale Jet deal so that the trail of corruption is cleaned off and there remains no proof of wrongdoing when the Supreme Court opens the case for hearing.
During her visit to France, Nirmala Sitharaman not only met her French counterpart but also travelled to the Dassault factory where the MMRCA, Rafale Jets, are manufactured. Her visit was criticised by the opposition parties, including the Congress, as it came at a time when the Supreme Court’s bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi demanded from the government its decision-making process regarding the ratification of the original treaty signed during the UPA II regime in a sealed cover. Nirmala Sitharaman was accused of collaborating with the French government and Eric Trappier to erase the scam trail and to fabricate all information, including the minutes of meetings, press statements, etc. where contradictions are clearly visible.
As part of this nexus and in its attempt to build up a web of lies to save Narendra Modi and the coterie from corruption allegations, the Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trapper incessantly went on whitewashing the Rafale Jet deal. Negating the former French president Francois Hollande, who claimed that Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited (RDL), then a 12-day-old company with no experience in aviation, forget military aviation, was introduced in the crucial defence deal following the Modi government’s demand, Eric Trappier reiterated his claim that it was Dassault Aviation that selected Anil Ambani’s company as its offshore partner.
Of course, the Dassault CEO didn’t clarify what makes the novice RDL a better alternative to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), the public sector company that originally bagged the contract in 2012 and was suppose to make 108 jets in India under a technology transfer arrangement. The technology transfer by Dassault Aviation to India for the manufacturing of 108 jets would have seriously upgraded the skills of the HAL and it would have been a boon for India’s defence sector as India could have learned a lot from the process. The HAL has a rich experience in aircraft assembling, manufacturing and repairing in its facility at Bengaluru. The Dassault Aviation had to pay a huge price for selecting RDL as its Indian offshore partner as the political optics of this egregious goof-up mounted a toll on the company’s reputation and international business engagements.
Even the excuse that Anil Ambani’s company owned the land required for the work in Maharashtra fell on its face, as it was only on 16 June 2015 that the RDL applied for land from the Maharashtra government, which gave it 289-acre land at Mihan, near Nagpur, at a throwaway price of Rs 64 crore only on 29 August 2015. This was a case of fast land allocation by the BJP government to a corporate entity, which bagged a big contract with the government’s support without even existing outside the books. The financial health of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group is under question as it has a total debt of Rs 45,000 crore debts and Swedish telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson even pleaded with the Supreme Court to prevent Anil Ambani from leaving India in view of a Rs 550 crore pending debt that Anil Ambani’s Reliance didn’t pay back. Dassault Aviation invested money with the RDL in their joint venture – Dassault Reliance Aviation Ltd. (DRAL) that will be responsible for repairing and supporting the 36 flyaway MMRCA jets that Dassault will deliver to the Indian Air Force, which actually helped to set up the business out of which Anil Ambani’s RDL will extract profit. Eric Trappier didn’t go inside the topic to provide details about RDL’s non-apt financial health. His interview was full of praises for the RDL and Anil Ambani’s Reliance group as if partnering with this company was the best thing that happened to the French aviation giant.
Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier’s recent interview to ANI didn’t bring out any new content, rather, it is actually a repetition of his earlier interview to CNBC-TV18, where he pleaded innocence by spinning facts and by contradicting the information available in the public domain. The blatant lies in this interview was busted in details in an article published by The Wire. It was exposed how the Dassault Aviation CEO tried to mix up two different Reliance entities (headed by Mukesh and Anil Ambani) to cover up the new agreement for Rafale Jet prepared by Narendra Modi arbitrarily in April 2015. Eric Trappier, in his previous interview to the CNBC-News 18 made a list of false claims that The Wire’s analysis exposed. The only defence that the Dassault Aviation CEO had in his kitty during his recent interview to the ANI was his claim that he never lies.
“I don’t lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true. I don’t have a reputation for lying. In my position as CEO, you don’t lie”.
This was all that Eric Trappier could say to retain his credibility and that of Narendra Modi’s. The BJP welcomed the statement and considered it as Gospel truth to take on the opposition. Lacking substance, Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP’s klaxon on the Rafale Jet scam, criticised the Congress and the opposition, basing his attack solely on the claims made by the Dassault CEO, including the exaggeration that he never lies.
Eric Trappier tried to subtly refer to Dassault’s connection with the Congress by reciting the ties that Rafale had with the Nehru government and other Congress-led governments in the past. The Dassault CEO was simply parroting the same lines that Nirmala Sitharaman and other BJP stalwarts taught him during their extensive discussion on ways to cull the trouble. The attempt to revoke the memories of the Congress rule since the time of Nehru was to ensure that the Congress scales down its attacks against the Rafale Jet scam.
“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”, Trappier told the ANI.
Arun Jaitley also joined his party colleagues in their feral chorus against the Congress and the opposition. By firing his salvo against the Congress, Jaitley kept calling that the Rafale Jet accusation as a failed politics of the Congress. The concerted effort by the entire coterie was found doing one thing in unison- shielding the Narendra Modi-led government and its image from public wrath. In defending the Rafale Jet scam, Arun Jaitley pathetically failed to counter a single point raised by the opposition, especially the Congress and restricted his attacks targeting Rahul Gandhi and the Congress’ past rule and scams. Arun Jaitley, unlike a lawyer, kept flouting the very fundamental law of criminal proceedings, where the self-defence testimony by the accused or the co-accused isn’t admissible, which means, the “I don’t lie” claim by the Dassault is actually not going to work as any defence. It’s time that the Dassault Aviation or the BJP should come up with a better defence for themselves.
The desperation of the BJP, the Dassault Aviation, Anil Ambani’s Reliance group and the French government to quell the opposition tirade against the Rafale Jet scam is clearly visible to the public. As the Supreme Court’s bench under the CJI is closely scrutinising the deal, the pricing and the decision-making process (which certainly wasn’t there as the Defence Ministry wasn’t aware in 2015 April about the sudden change in the deal), the BJP has got the hint that its carefully-manufactured anti-corruption crusader image and Narendra Modi’s personal image will get worst affected in a crucial election year in case the Supreme Court bashes it or the entire deal itself. This is a reason that sans Narendra Modi, almost all BJP stalwarts have plunged into the fray to whitewash the crime and cover up any more exposure by intimidating journalists and publications. Also, there have been a concerted effort visible, attempted at pushing the ball of the Rafale Jet scam to the court of the Congress government.
Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier can give thousands of such interviews and try to divert the course of Indian politics, which is stimulated by the Rafale Jet scam. Eric Trappier, Narendra Modi or Anil Ambani can use several tricks to hoodwink the people and deceive them in believing that the Rafale Jet deal is a very transparent deal. However, the dynamic praxis of politics never waits for anyone or can’t be moulded every time as per someone’s whims; Narendra Modi won’t be able to retain his middle-class background if more skeletons are out of the closet of the notorious deal. The reason the Dassault Aviation CEO is forced to give manufactured interviews to news organisations close to the Modi regime is to negate the negative perception about Modi regime’s complicity in the scam, which is growing in the country. When Eric Trappier has only falsehoods in his kitty, then despite his saintly claims of being a man who never lies, it was only lies, sheer lies, that dominated this interview and all others where he had spoken about the Rafale Jet scam, which itself built a heap of lies to save the interests of one corporate house from sinking in the mire of bankruptcy. It’s time now that the people will hold all the stakeholders of Rafale Jet scam and all such big-ticket scams that have rocked the country. Narendra Modi’s communal jibes won’t be able to save his government, not even Eric Trappier’s lies.