Modi under fire | Editorial

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has been accused of nepotism whilst striking a deal with a French aircraft manufacturing company named, Dassault. Instead of giving preference to the public sector; Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the contract was hand over the Reliance Group, led by Anil Ambani.
Since 2016, India has been working on a deal with France for the Rafale fighter jets. Indian and French officials had previously stated that Dassault had chosen to work with the Reliance group, despite their lack of expertise in the aeronautical industry. The controversy arose when the former French president, Francois Hollande stated that it was infact the Indian government that chose Reliance, over any other Indian company. The matter was further complicated, when it was disclosed that Anil Ambani funded 16 percent of, Hollande’s girlfriend’s film set on Mount Everest. While the deal was initially for 126 fighter jets to be manufactured in India — the number was reduced to 36 Rafale planes that were made in France. This has raised questions regarding the exuberant cost of the aircrafts as well.
After Dassault, Hollande and his girlfriend Julie Gayet all issued the same statement with evidence. Modi and his government are now in a tight corner. Moreover, the shadow of Anil Ambani’s dubious industrialist past has not helped the situation. According to reports, the Reliance Group Limited was registered merely 14 days before Modi’s announcement of the purchase in France. While it’s subdivision; Reliance Aerostructure Ltd was created 14 days later.
The Indian opposition has been protesting and Rahul Gandhi, President of the Congress has demanded for Modi’s resignation over the sordid affair. According to Gandhi, Modi has practiced “clear cut corruption” by delivering the contract for an inflated price to Ambani, who has no experience in manufacturing military hardware. Many others have cited this incident as the greatest example of corruption in Indian history.
Critics are now linking this to Modi’s refusal to conduct talks between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers regarding trade and peace in the region. When things go bad in either country, politicians have been known to distract public attention to the neighbouring ‘other’.
Whatever the case maybe, we hope for the sake of Indian public that the matter is sorted with due diligence and fairness. And despite the current state of bilateral affairs, India and Pakistan must set aside their differences, to ensure regional stability and progress.
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