Amid the political controversy over Rafale deal with France, the Dassault Aviation has announced that it will deliver the fighter jets to India from 2019, reported news agency Reuters.
The development comes after Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent visit to France, where she visited a Rafale manufacturing facility near Paris to take stock of progress in their production of the 36 fighter jets.
On Sunday, questioning Modi's silence over the deal, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma had claimed that only the prime minister was aware that the offset contracts would not be given to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
"The prime minister has much to hide in the Rafale deal. His silence raises fundamental questions, because he is directly complicit and personally accountable for it," he alleged.
India had inked an agreement with Dassault in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one- and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. Since then, the deal has faced criticism from Opposition parties especially Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress has been accusing PM Modi of forcing Dassault to select Reliance as an offset partner to help the Indian firm “pocket” Rs 300 billion —the entire estimated offset amount. However, the government has rubbished all allegations saying no government had any say in the decision as the agreement between Dassault and Reliance was a commercial pact between two private parties.