Rafale is your right, Rahul tells HAL staff
Says Won’t Allow Government To Dismantle Temples Of Modern India
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