Congress President Rahul Gandhi being presented a memorandum by a group of working and retired employees of the state-run aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in Bengaluru. (Source: PTI)

Rahul Meets HAL Employees As He Steps Up Rafale Attack On Modi

Stepping up his campaign against the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale fighter jet deal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi today described Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. as a “strategic asset” in aerospace.

Reaching out to present and former employees of the defence public sector unit at an interaction with them in Bengaluru, Gandhi said the work done by HAL for the country was tremendous and the India owed debt to it for “protecting us” and creating a scientific vision.

“....HAL is a strategic asset in aerospace, not an ordinary or regular company,” Gandhi said at the event organised at Minsk Square near the HAL headquarters. He said he was interacting with the employees to understand how to make “this strategic asset” more effective “so that when we come to power, we will do it more aggressively”.

Gandhi's interaction is part of his onslaught against the Modi government over the Rafale deal in which he alleges HAL had been overlooked in the offsets contracts with French aerospace company Dassault Aviation preferring Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd.

Also read: “No Role” In Picking Reliance Defence For Rafale Jet Deal: Modi Government

The Congress has demanded answers on why the state-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal as finalised during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance government. The party accused Prime Minister Modi of snatching jobs of people of Karnataka by taking away the contract from HAL. Gandhi earlier said that had HAL been selected in place of Reliance Defence, it could have generated employment for scores of unemployed youth in the state.

The BJP and Reliance Defence have dismissed the allegations as false. Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with then French President Francois Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.

Also read: Hollande Contradicts Himself; Dassault Chose Reliance On Its Own, Says Arun Jaitley On Rafale Deal