London: British Prime Minister David Cameron praised India’s initiative to become a global manufacturing hub and offered technological assistance to achieve its targets, including in developing its “own world class fighter aircraft” that is “better than Rafale.”
In an exclusive interview to Asian Lite newspaper based in London, the prime minister said Britain is ready to help India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautical Limited to develop world class fighter jets.
“The British offer of Eurofighter Typhoon to India is still on table,” Cameron said. “It will come along with technological and engineering assistance for India to develop its own world class fighter aircraft. It will be a better deal than Rafale.”
Cameron was commenting on India’s decision to buy Rafale fighters from France over the Eurofighter Typhoon of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).
During a recent official visit to France, Modi agreed to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft off the shelf. This was part of a $24 billion defence deal for 126 aircraft aiming to replace outdated Russian-built MiG aircraft with modern Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
But the deal is under cloud as France is reportedly hesitant to share the technology to build the remaining lot of Rafale in India.
“India is going to play a very big role in the success of British economy,” Cameron said.
“Trade and investment relations have improved in the last five years and we need more political cooperation on climate change and other issue,” he added. “I am looking towards to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a heavy agenda.”
He said the objectives of Conservative 2020 Vision are realistic and will bring dramatic changes in the socio-political landscape for the ethnic communities, including the 1.5 million Indians across the country.
“Our schemes like start-up loans are helping the communities in a big way,” Cameron said. “The 2020 Vision will ensure one-fifth of the retirement seats will be reserved for the black and minority ethnic communities. We fielded Mr Rishi Sunak (son-in-law of Infosys’ Krishnamurthy) at Richmond, the former seat of William Hague and one of the safest seats for the Conservatives in North Yorkshire.”
“The party will persuade experts in different fields to join to bring changes in the communities,” Cameron added.
Cameron said the first Asian or black prime minister in the country will be from the Conservative Party. He added young British Indian Conservative councillors like Reena Ranger Ahuja are role models for the community to embark on mainstream political career.
“Reena is already a Conservative councillor; she is in the candidate list. She is a perfect example and will make a brilliant MP,” Cameron said.
He dismissed rumours of discussions on leadership changes in the Conservative Party as the general elections on May 7 appear headed to deliver a hung parliament.
“I am not contemplating failure and I am contemplating success at this stage,” Cameron told Asian Lite. “I am sure I will get the mandate on May 7 to complete the work I started five years ago.”
The Sunday Times reported that Conservatives were facing a “wobbly weekend” after some of the party’s donors and prospective MPs openly criticised their own campaign and called for London Boris Johnson to take over from Cameron.
The paper said Tory candidates and ministers were already in discussions over a successor to Cameron if he loses on May 7.
The prime minister says the party is focusing on winning the election and not leadership change.