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Defence ministry tries to distance government from 'conjectural' Rafale connection

Neither the period of the tax concession nor the subject matter of the concession relate even remotely to the Rafale procurement, says ministry

By TT Bureau in New Delhi
  • Published 14.04.19, 6:57 AM
  • Updated 15.04.19, 7:41 AM
  • a min read
  •  
The defence ministry's statement stood out because no one had accused the defence ministry of anything during the day. (Shutterstock)

The Indian defence ministry issued a curious statement on Saturday, distancing the “present government” from the “conjectural connection” associated with the French tax exemption for an Anil Ambani company.

“We have seen reports drawing conjectural connection between tax exemption to a private company and procurement of Rafale fighter jets by government of India. Neither the period of the tax concession nor the subject matter of the concession relate even remotely to the Rafale procurement concluded during the tenure of the present government,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

The statement stood out because no one had accused the defence ministry of anything during the day.

If at all any Indian leader or official wing had to respond, it should have been the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister’s Office on his behalf. The Opposition has been levelling direct allegations against the Prime Minister.

The second part of the defence ministry statement does not tell the full story as had been told by Le Monde, the respected French newspaper.

“Neither the period of the tax concession nor the subject matter of the concession relate even remotely to the Rafale procurement concluded during the tenure of the present government,” the defence ministry said.

What the ministry’s statement did not say is that Le Monde reported that the French officials gave up their initial refusal and accepted the reduced final tax settlement from Reliance Flag in October 2015, months after the Indian Prime Minister had finalised the revised Rafale deal in Paris in April 2015.