Rahul takes Rafale battle to HAL doors
CONTRACT DENIAL: Modi government has ‘insulted, hurt and destroyed’ the future of the public sector undertaking
BENGALURU: Taking the Rafale battle to the doors of HAL, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the Modi government has “insulted, hurt and destroyed” the future of the public sector undertaking by depriving it of the offset contract with the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.
In an hour-long interaction with about 100 former and present employees of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), who were directed by the management to keep away from it, he also questioned the credibility and the experience of the private company that got the Rs 30,000 crore offset contract.
Gandhi said firms such as HAL, ISRO and DRDO were the “temples of modern India” which were being “destroyed” by the Modi government that was indulging in corruption.
“A very senior person in the government has raised questions over the ‘capacity’ of HAL. I ask them as to what is the capacity of Anil Ambani’s company that has got the contract? What exactly is the experience this person has (in aeronautics)? The HAL’S capabilities are all in front of us. You (HAL) have built HF-24, Migs, Sukhoi and Tejas. The public sector is the backbone of the country and the defence sector,” Gandhi said.
He said it was “completely ridiculous” to say that HAL does not have any experience. The person who got the contract has zero experience.
“Does HAL have debt? No. But the person who got the contract has Rs 45,000 crore debt,” he added.
Rahul said, “You are the only company with the requisite experience to build that aircraft (Rafale). You are the people who built Tejas, MIG, Sukhoi. How can anybody say that you are not experienced? The forces trying to take away your future are quite powerful, quite connected,” he said, adding that concerted efforts would be needed to save HAL and other public sector companies.
“I have come to give a message that we are going to protect your future. We are going to fight for your rights. Rafale is your right. The decision (to give offset contract) should be done only on merit. Nobody in the world who thinks objectively and takes decisions on merit can take away the offset contract from HAL.”
He said when the Congress comes to power at the Centre its government would ensure that HAL got more orders to make aircraft. “We will not allow this government or anyone to destroy HAL or take away orders from it.
Referring to the circular directing employees to keep away from the interaction with him, Gandhi said the management must have been under “pressure” from the government but “we are fighting for you too”.
He said the HAL fraternity has been insulted and hurt. “Their hard work of the last 78 years, their patriotism, has been insulted and questioned by the government through the Defence Ministry. The gentleman who has got the contract has worked only for 12 days. The temples of modern India are being destroyed,” the Congress President said.
Taking a jibe at the media, he said: “You (HAL employees) called me here because you feel the media is not listening to your voice. But media does not listen even to us these days. The media bosses don’t want these types of conversations.”
Gandhi said he was 100 per cent with the HAL employees and told them they were free to call him anytime 24/7 to voice their grievances.