The Congress on Friday said the film production deal between Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment and former French President Francois Hollande’s partner — actor Julie Gayet — two days before Hollande’s India visit in 2016, during which he signed an MoU with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for delivering 36 Rafale aircraft, raises fresh questions of quid pro quo and conflict of interest.
The Indian Express on Friday reported that Reliance Entertainment had entered into a pact with Gayet’s firm Rouge International to jointly produce a French film on January 24, 2016. On January 26, 2016, India and France signed the MoU for purchase of 36 jets in flyaway condition.
Addressing reporters, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the pact between Reliance Entertainment and Gayet’s firm was not a coincidence. He did not name the Reliance Group, merely referring to it as the company which is the beneficiary of Rs 30,000 crore offset contract in the Rafale deal.
“What are these series of coincidences,” Singhvi asked. He claimed that the “head of the group” had accompanied Prime Minister Modi to France when the deal was announced in 2015, had incorporated a defence company 12 days before that, got the contract and executed an agreement with the partner of the French President in 2016.
Singhvi said: “Once is a coincidence, twice is coincidence… all these series of events are called conflicts on interests — they are not called coincidences. They are called quid pro quo, a fancy Latin word but what in means in crude English and Hindi you and I know. And what it means in simple language is also what certain statues have made a criminal offence.”
He said, “It is now public knowledge that the head of this group accompanied Modi to Paris when the agreements (for 36 Rafale jets) were signed on April 10, 2015. This film production agreement was a cherry on the cake on the murkier deals…” Singhvi said the French media had since 2015 been reporting about Gayet’s “enormous influence”.
Dassault Aviation, makers of Rafale fighter jets, could not have given the offset contract to Reliance without government push and encouragement, Singhvi alleged. “Was the French manufacturer suffering from midsummer madness or bitten by wild animals that it decided to give a Rs 30,000-crore contract, or a substantial part thereof, along with that a 50-year life cycle maintenance contract worth (Rs) 1 lakh crore?…. Did they find with a candle only one group which has amongst the highest list of debts?…. They did not find any other industrialists of India,” he asked.