The report in Mediapart, a French-language publication, quoted Hollande as saying, "It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani".
In an interview to a French media house, Hollande on a question about who selected Reliance as a partner and why, said it was the Indian government that proposed Reliance's name and Dassault had no choice but to take the company given to it.
Gandhi demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe to which Hollande can also be called. As Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, despite having a massive majority in the Lok Sabha had dwindled his support and ended up marginalised in his own government and party. And the ex-president of France has said that in that meeting I was clearly told that the contract had to go to Mr Ambani. "We didn't have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us".
Under the Rafale deal, France must spend amounts totalling around half the eight billion euros ($9.4 bn) paid by the Indian government.
The statement attributed to Hollande, who was speaking in French, was translated for The Telegraph by Basabi Pal, head of the French department at Chandernagore Government College in Hooghly, and Sudeshna Banerjee, a journalist with this newspaper. The defense ministry said in a tweet that neither the French nor Indian government had a say in the matter. "The country can not be run from one single idea", Gandhi was quoted as saying by PTI.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi accused the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) government of imposing "one ideology" on the people of the country and asserted that the country can not like that. The report also carried this Anil Ambani quote from August: "The Ministry of Defence played no role in the selection of Indian partners by the vendor".
Notably, Reliance Defence is not making components for Rafales, but building assemblies for Dassault business jets.
FILE PHOTO: Supporters of India's main opposition Congress Party shout slogans during a protest demanding from government to disclose the details of Rafale fighter planes deal, in Mumbai, India, July 30, 2018.
FILE PHOTO: A Rafale fighter jet performs during the Aero India air show at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, India, February 18, 2015.
The statement from French Government is a straight-forward one. "It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision". The Centre has repeatedly stated it was Dassault that chose its India partner for offsets and that the government had no say in the deal.
The opposition has been accusing the government of choosing Reliance Defence over state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to benefit the private firm though it did not have any experience in the aerospace sector.