Rafale deal: Rahul demands Nirmala's resignation 

Rafale deal: Rahul demands Nirmala's resignation 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of "lying" on HAL's capability to build Rafale aircraft and demanded her resignation. PTI Photo

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday demanded the resignation of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, accusing her of “lying” to the nation on state-owned HAL's capability to manufacture the Rafale fighter aircraft.

Dubbing Nirmala as "Rafale Minister", Rahul said the revelations by former HAL chief T S Raju had “nailed her lie” that the defence PSU did not have the capability to build the Rafale fighter jets.

“Her position is untenable & she must resign,” the Congress president tweeted and appended a media report on the former HAL chief's remarks.

The Congress and the Narendra Modi government are locked in a war of words over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal after Sitharaman claimed that the HAL is not competent enough to produce the aircraft.

Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari accused Nirmala of lying on the contracts signed by Dassault Aviation and HAL.

“The Chief of HAL, who retired in 2018, has made certain pertinent points that demolishes NDA's claim. He has said that HAL and Dassault had signed the mutual Workshare Contract and had given it to the government,” Tewari said.

The Congress leader said the former HAL chief's assertions that the defence PSU had the capability to build Rafale aircraft also contradicted Nirmala's statement.

“The question which arises is, did the defence minister intentionally try and mislead the people of India … Congress demands the resignation of the defence minister on the charge of misleading the people of India,” Tewari said.

The Congress had asked the Comptroller and Auditor General to conduct a “forensic audit” of the Rafale deal and accused the government of causing a loss of over Rs 41,000 crore to the exchequer and endangered national security by bypassing HAL in favour of some businessman “friends” for offset contracts.

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