Tuesday, September 25, 2018

India's ruling party claims there's an 'international conspiracy' including France's Hollande against Narendra Modi

India’s ruling party is fighting back amid a scandal over a $9bn (£6.8bn) arms deal that saw the prime minister facing calls to resign. Now, Narendra Modi’s BJP party says the allegations are part of an “international conspiracy” to bring him down.
The claims relate to a deal struck by Mr Modi’s government to buy 36 fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation, a manufacturer whose Rafale aircraft rival the likes of Lockheed Martin's F-16 and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Under Indian regulations, foreign arms companies must invest at least 30 per cent of any given contract with an Indian partner to produce some of the goods locally, thereby boosting India’s manufacturing sector and gradually weaning it off imported hardware.
The issue, India’s opposition Congress party alleges, is that Dassault chose for its local partner a company owned by the billionaire industrialist – and friend of Mr Modi – Anil Ambani, instead of a more established manufacturer.
Some allegations of crony capitalism followed, but the scandal erupted on Friday when Francois Hollande, the French president at the time the deal was struck, said the proposal of Ambani’s company came not from Dassault itself but from the Indian government. “We did not have a choice, we took the partner who was given to us,” Mr Hollande told France’s Mediapart.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi jumped on the report, tweeting that “the PM has betrayed India” and further alleging that Mr Modi “personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors”.
But in a series of press conferences, ministers for Mr Modi’s BJP have hit back, accusing Congress of working with foreign influences to destabilise India.
25/09/18 Adam Withnall Delhi/Independent