Rafale is your right, Rahul tells HAL staff

Says Won’t Al­low Gov­ern­ment To Dis­man­tle Tem­ples Of Mod­ern In­dia

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION -

Ben­galuru: “Rafale is your right,” Rahul Gandhi told serv­ing and re­tired em­ploy­ees of Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL) at an in­ter­ac­tion here, ac­cus­ing the Modi gov­ern­ment of in­sult­ing the PSU by doubt­ing their ca­pa­bil­ity to build the fighter jet. Al­leg­ing that PM Modi’s cor­rup­tion had cost “hun­dreds and thou­sands of jobs”, the Congress pres­i­dent said the op­po­si­tion would not al­low gov­ern­ment to “dis­man­tle” the tem­ples of mod­ern In­dia, re­fer­ring to the coun­try’s pub- lic sec­tor units. The in­ter­ac­tion, held a stone’s throw from HAL’s cor­po­rate of­fice around 3.30pm, lasted one­and-a-half hours. HAL had is­sued a gag or­der ahead of Gandhi’s visit, warn­ing em­ploy­ees against par­tic­i­pat­ing.

“What is hap­pen­ing is tem­ples of mod­ern In­dia are be­ing at­tacked and de­stroyed and we can­not al­low this. You have worked now for more than 70 years. If some­body thinks they can build their fu­ture on top of your graves, that is also not go­ing to be al­lowed,” Gandhi told the gath­er­ing. The Rafale deal is an act of cor­rup­tion, he said. “The act of cor­rup­tion by PM Naren­dra Modi and Anil Am­bani has been at the cost of hun­dreds and thou­sands of jobs for the coun­try’s me­chan­i­cal and aero­nau­ti­cal engi­neers. I am clearly stat­ing that there have been kick­backs re­ceived from the deal. Why else would gov­ern­ment give the con­tracts to Anil Am­bani who has a debt of Rs 35,000 crore and not to HAL which has shown its ca­pa­bil­i­ties of man­u­fac­tur­ing air­craft over the past 75 years,” he asked..

Re­fer­ring to Nir­mala Sithara­man’s re­cent visit to France, he said the de­fence min­is­ter had gone to “cover up” the al­leged scam.

He said Congress would hit the streets in ev­ery town and stand with HAL to bring back the Rafale project to the Ben­galuru-based PSU. “Pub­lic sec­tor units of the na­tion like HAL, DRDO, NAL and Isro are the na­tion’s back­bone and we will do ev­ery­thing to pro­tect them,” he said.

Ad­dress­ing the gath­er­ing, two former em­ploy­ees of HAL said the Cen­tre had “in­sulted” them by claim­ing the com­pany does not have the “ca­pac­ity” to build fighter air­craft. Rahul re­sponded that HAL was the only com­pany which had the ex­per­tise to build the Rafale fighter jets. “You (HAL) are de­mand­ing that your rights be re­stored by bring­ing back the Rafale con­tract. And we will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make it a re­al­ity,” he said.

Tak­ing a jibe at the Modi gov­ern­ment, Rahul said he was apol­o­gis­ing on its be­half to HAL em­ploy­ees for al­legedly di­vert­ing the con­tracts to pri­vate firms. “I know that gov­ern­ment is not go­ing to apol­o­gise, but on their be­half I apol­o­gise to you, even though I have noth­ing to do with it. I un­der­stand that you are hurt and I want to stand with you in your dis­com­fort,” he said.

Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi dur­ing an in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion with HAL em­ploy­ees in Ben­galuru on Satur­day

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