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Rafale deal: Why French jets are at the centre of an Indian political storm

India's opposition parties are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over allegations of corruption in a multi-billion dollar fighter jet deal.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the main opposition Congress party, has alleged that Mr Modi "favoured" an Indian company that is part of the French deal.

Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has denied the allegation, saying the government signed the deal to meet the Indian Air Force's combat requirements and had no role in choosing the French manufacturer's local partner.

The issue has caused a political storm in India, and much of the debate in TV news shows has revolved around it in the past few days.

India, the world's second-largest defence importer in 2017, signed a government-to-government deal with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale warplanes manufactured by Dassault Aviation.

With this deal, Delhi is hoping to modernise its Soviet-era air force fleet. The Rafale is a multi-role aircraft - capable of carrying out long-range missions, including conducting highly-accurate sea and ground attacks.

The first Rafales are expected to be delivered by 2019 and India is set to have all 36 jets within six years.

Mr Modi announced the deal in Paris along with then French President Fran├žois Hollande. The Indian government said it had negotiated the "best deal" to strengthen its air combat capabilities.

Almost two years later, the leaders seem to have different views on what they once described as an important deal.

Mr Hollande sparked political controversy in India last week by telling French news website Mediapart that Mr Modi's government had pressured Dassault to partner with India's Reliance Defence to meet its "offset policy".

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