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Ambassador of France to India, Emmanuel Lenain, during an exclusive interview with <i>EastMojo</i>
Ambassador of France to India, Emmanuel Lenain, during an exclusive interview with EastMojo|EastMojo image
ASSAM

French envoy terms Rafale controversy a mere political campaign

My govt is expecting a positive response from SC over the issue, says Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, on sidelines of event in Guwahati, Assam

Amlan Jyoti Das

Guwahati: Terming the controversies related to the much-hyped Rafael deal as a political campaign, Emmanuel Lenain, the Ambassador of France to India, has announced that his government is expecting a positive response from the Supreme Court of India over the issue.

“I think there was a political campaign issue and I think it’s pretty clear by now that there was nothing wrong in the deal. And it appears very clearly. We are now expecting final word from the Supreme Court, but I am very confident from what I hear,” said Lenain during an exclusive interview with EastMojo on the sidelines of a government function organised in Guwahati on Monday.

The Rafale controversy is related to the purchase of 36 multirole fighter aircraft for a price of about 7.8 billion euros by the Union defence ministry from France's Dassault Aviation. The origin of the deal lies in the Indian MRCA competition, a multi-billion dollar contract to supply 126 multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force.

Meanwhile, expressing his satisfaction over the Indo-French business relations over the years, Lenain said that his government is looking forward to the increasing business ties with both the nations.

Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in August this year, he said that both the countries are working on innovations in satellite technology and blue economy in the Pacific Ocean.

“We are working on trade, innovation, investment, culture. We want to promote people-to-people exchanges. We want to have more people coming to France, coming to study and next going to universities. We want more Indians to learn our language, we want more control exchange in the field of science as our country is also a country of great innovation,” he said.

On the trade relations between both the countries, Lenain, who was in Guwahati on Monday, also expressed apprehension over the slow pace of trade relations.

“As far as trade is concerned, it is moving but it could move faster. Because, I think both countries have a lot to exchange,” he said, adding that French companies are ready to bring out their technologies to be a part of the great development in India.

“We know that you are facing challenges of urbanisation and smart cities, also how to provide safe food and to have good healthcare. In all these areas, French companies are world leaders and are ready to be a part of it,” he added.

During his recent visit to Assam, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Assam government have signed a 50 million euro project agreement for reforestation and biodiversity conservation in Assam.

Expressing satisfaction over the project with the government of Assam, Lenain said, “Originally it was a project to promote and protect biodiversity and animals and since it was launched in 2012. It provided great success. Of course, it helps to bring back new rhinos and new animals but also it’s a wonderful project because it engaged all the communities including women and hence it was very much gender-specific also. Now, we are about to start and it’s another reason for my coming as it is the new phase, phase II which will carry the project even further.”

He further added that this project would be a shining example of what should be done to protect biodiversity in international meetings particularly the oncoming meetings on biodiversity which will be held in June 2020 at Marseille in France.

However, since the phase I of the project was just, over so it will take around five more years to grow.

The idea of the same project to replicate in various other states of Northeast is not unnoticed as he hopes that this project will be a showcase of the good experience that can then be replicated elsewhere involving the local communities as well.