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Fact Check: Did BJP actually mislead on Rafale or Altnews manufactured lies to defame BJP

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Summary

Altnews was caught misleading its followers by misquoting BJP and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prashad. They even fabricated a few lies to falsely prove that BJP is misleading the people on Rafale.

 

On September 22, AltNews published a report claiming BJP is misleading the public on Rafale. When I read the article, I found several errors and assumptions (due to prejudice and confirmation bias) by AltNews while writing this report. (Archived link)

AltNews started the article by giving the background of the Rafale controversy which erupted due to former President of France Francois Hollande's statement. In the second paragraph they wrote:

On September 22, the official handle of the BJP tweeted that there is incontrovertible evidence that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had existed between Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the Rafale aircraft, and Reliance Defence since February 2013, when the UPA government was in power. 

Did BJP ever claim that MOU was signed between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defense?

The BJP's tweet pointed out by AltNews reads "There is evidence available that a proper MoU existed between Dassault and Reliance industry as early as on Feb 13, 2013, that means 1 year, 4 months before we came to power: Shri @rsprasad

We need your attention here. BJP is talking about MOU between Dassault and Reliance Industries which is owned by Mukesh Ambani but AltNews wrote: "BJP is claiming that MOU was signed between Dassault and Reliance Defence which is owned by Mukesh Ambani".

Cleary, AltNews has misquoted the tweet of BJP to prove that BJP is misleading the public. If we talk in purely technical terms, there is nothing wrong or even misleading in the tweet of BJP because an MOU was indeed signed between Reliance Industries (RIL) and Dassault aviation in 2012 as reported by TOI.

Due to their own confirmation bias or prejudice, AltNews claimed that while tweeting Tajinder Bagga may not be aware of the differences between Reliance Defence and Reliance industries and that's why he tweeted the screenshots of an article which featured a photograph of Mukesh Ambani. But we will prove by the end of this article that how this is just an assumption of the author.

Why BJP has revived the issue of MOU between Reliance Industries and Dassault?

Congress and other opposition party have been constantly accusing BJP of favoring a private company instead of Government-owned PSU, HAL.

While addressing a news conference at the Indian Women’s Press Corps in New Delhi on 18th September, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the rule to give foreign manufacturers the freedom to choose the offset partner was made by the UPA regime. Under the offset rule, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) after having sold something to us can invest or buy a product for offset obligation fulfillment. The OEM can do it with private or public. This is a rule of their (UPA) time. That time as well you can give to the private or public sector as reported by Economic Times.

So, BJP has countered that if BJP government can be accused of crony capitalism for the deal between Dassault and Reliance Defense then UPA II should also be blamed for the deal between Reliance Industries and Dassault Aviation. Moreover, it was UPA government who opened the door for private companies in offset deals.

To prove this point, BJP had been constantly claiming that even during UPA Government, Dassault had partnered with a private company, Reliance Industries. This will be crystal clear if we read the full statement of Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prashad. He said "In 2012, when Dassault signed the agreement with Reliance, the company was led by Mukesh Ambani. Anil Ambani is his younger brother. Whatever happened between the two brothers is their matter". (Source)

In concluding paragraph AltNews wrote: "BJP’s claim that Reliance Industries Ltd. was already party to the agreement signed by the previous government is, simply put, false. The Times of India article that the party has referred to is about a defence pact that was signed between Dassault Aviation and RIL, which is owned by Mukesh Ambani whereas the current agreement has awarded the offset contract to Reliance Defence Ltd which is owned by his brother Anil Ambani."

I think there is a mistake on the author's part. He must have wanted to write "BJP's claim that Reliance Defence was already party to the agreement signed by the previous government is, simply put, false".
But again BJP has never claimed that MOU was signed in 2012 between Reliance Defence and Dassault. They have always maintained the MOU was between Reliance Industries and Dassault. And Reliance Industries(RIL) is owned by Mukesh Ambani. That's why Tajinder Bagga tweeted the screenshot of the article with Mukesh Ambani images in it.

Screenshot 

Did BJP mislead the public: No, BJP never claimed that MOU was signed between Reliance Defense and Dassault in 2012. AltNews has clearly misquoted the tweet of BJP.

Did Altnews mislead its followers: Yes, they have clearly misquoted the tweet of BJP. Even in the last paragraph, they are wrong. BJP has never said that RIL was part of the agreement signed by the government. In fact, BJP has always maintained that neither UPA nor NDA government has the power to choose offset partners as evident in the statement of Nirmala Sitharaman.

Note: They have updated their article after our email. Here is the archived link. Read to find out how they refused to acknowledge our email

Alt News failed to acknowledge our rebuttal, silently updated the article after our expose

Note: You can reach out to us at support[at]facthunt.co.in if you find any issue with our articles.

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