Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday accused the Modi government of trying to weaken the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a 15-minute debate on the issue.
Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament, Rahul said that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had not answered any of the questions raised by him on the Rafale fighter deal.
“Did the defence minister question the PM’s interference in the Rafale deal? When the bypass surgery was done and the number of planes reduced from 126 to 36, did the IAF officers object to it or not? The defence minister gave a long reply in Lok Sabha but did not answer yes or no to the question whether PM interfered or not,” the Congress president said.
“Give me 15 minutes with PM Modi for a debate on Rafale, the country will know the truth,” Rahul said.
He also accused Nirmala of lying in the Parliament while claiming that the government had lent a helping hand to HAL.
“She spoke a clear lie in Parliament. Contracts worth Rs 26,570 crore have been given to HAL. Remarks that more contracts of Rs 73,000 crore have been given is a total sham,” Rahul said.
He said that the Modi government had given Dassault Aviation Rs 20,000 crore though they had not delivered a single Rafale aircraft but HAL, which had delivered on its orders including helicopters, was awaiting payment of Rs 15,700 crore. He accused the government of trying to wreck HAL.
The Congress president also targeted the prime minister on the issue of offset contracts in the Rafale deal being given to industrialist Anil Ambani’s company.
“Anil Ambani hasn’t made anything, yet he has been given the contract. HAL, which has made planes, helicopters etc, is not being given the contract,” Rahul claimed.
Earlier, he took to Twitter to accuse the Modi government of weakening HAL to benefit Ambani's firm.
“That HAL doesn’t have enough cash to pay salaries, isn’t surprising. Anil Ambani has Rafale. He now needs HAL’s brilliant talent pool to deliver on his contracts,” Rahul tweeted.
He said that without salaries, HAL’s best engineers and scientists will be forced to move to Ambani's venture.