On Friday, 21 September, French news organisation Mediapartpublished an investigative report in which the former French president Francois Hollande spoke out for the first time about the circumstances leading up to the 2016 Rafale deal. Hollande put the responsibility of bringing in Reliance as an offset partner—the bureaucratic jargon for obligatory reinvestments into India as a part of any large defence deal—squarely on the Indian government.
“We did not have a say in this,” Hollande told journalists Karl Laske and Antton Rouget. “The Indian government proposed this service group [Reliance], and Dassault negotiated with Ambani,” he added. “We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”
Hollande negotiated the Rafale deal with two different Indian prime ministers. The first deal, with Manmohan Singh, involved procuring 126 aircrafts, of which 108 were to be manufactured by the public-sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in India. The second deal that Narendra Modi negotiated, and finally signed, involved buying 36 aircraft, all to be manufactured in France, but with a 50 percent offset partnership with Reliance.