In another twist to the Rafale deal, the fact that Dassault and Reliance Industries already had signed a pact about offset deals is doing the rounds on social media. The problem arose because most of the people are not aware that Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani has separated their businesses back in 2005-06 and both operate independently now. The UPA government had issued a letter of intent to purchase 126 jets and for this, the French side would have been liable to invest Rs 1, 07,415 crore in India as offsets. Initially there were talks between Dassault aviation and Tata group about the offset deals. Reliance Industries Limited, led by Mukesh Ambani also wanted to compete for lucrative 1 lakh crore offset deal therefore it set up Reliance Aerospace Technologies Limited (RATL) in 2008 to prepare itself for the deal.
Reliance industries, led by Mukesh Ambai with better capital and human resources slowly got more leverage over offset deal. It hired many top executive from defense industry to get upper hand over Tata’s. Finally, a pact was signed between RATL and Dassault in 2012 for offset deals. However, the deal could not go forward because UPA government scrapped purchase of Rafale fighter aircrafts. In 2014, Reliance Industries shut down RATL and the company decided to not continue in defense and aerospace industry. After the departure of Mukesh Ambani from defence sector, Anil Ambani entered in the arena in 2015. Before this all the involvement of Dassault and Reliance Industries was limited to elder brother Mukesh Ambani.
Anil Ambani led Reliance defense was incorporated in 2015 to explore opportunities in defense and aerospace industry. Dassault inked an agreement with Reliance Industries Limited for offset deals when NDA government agreed to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts instead of 126. Reliance defense, led by Anil Ambani was not the only company with which offset agreement was signed by Dassault, there were 11 more companies involved. It was completely Dassault’s prerogative to choose offset partner with no involvement of Ministry of Defense. Congress had falsely claimed that government was involved in the Dassault and Reliance Defense deal. However, Dassault denied Congress’ allegations and said that it had the sole prerogative to choose the company with which it wanted to partner for the offset deal.
Anil Ambani wrote a letter to Rahul Gandhi, stating, “Rafale fighter jets are not being manufactured by Reliance or the Dassault Reliance Joint Venture. All 36 planes are to be 100 percent manufactured in France, and exported from France to India.” In another letter he had said that “Congress has been misinformed, misdirected and misled by malicious vested interests and corporate rivals” about the Rafale deal. “Our role is limited to offset exports and export obligations. More than 100 medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) will participate in this, along with public sector undertakings like BHEL and Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO). This role strengthens Indian manufacturing capabilities, and is in pursuance of the Offsets Policy introduced by the Congress-led UPA Government itself from 2005 onwards,” added Anil Ambani in his letter. He also filed 5,000 crore defamation case against National Herald, a newspaper controlled by Gandhi family which had accused Reliance defense for corruption.