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Saturday 18 January 2020

Amid Rafale controversy, Rahul Gandhi meets HAL employees

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 company

Bengaluru: Congress President Rahul Gandhi was at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in Bengaluru today and interacted with some working and retired employees of the state-run aerospace and defence company in the context of the defence behemoth not getting offset contract from the Rafale fighter deal.

Gandhi today described HAL as a “strategic asset” in aerospace, saying the country owed a debt to it, as he stepped up his campaign against the Modi government over the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Reaching out to present and former employees of the defence PSU at an interaction with them here, Gandhi said, work done by HAL for the country was tremendous and the country owed a 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” (HAL) 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 company.

The Congress, which has been accusing the government of benefiting the Reliance Defence Ltd of Anil Ambani from the deal, has also been demanding answers on why the state-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal as finalised during the UPA.

The party had been accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of snatching jobs of people of Karnataka by taking away the contract from HAL.

Gandhi had been saying that had HAL been selected in place of Reliance Defence it could have generated employment to scores of unemployed youth in the state.

However, the BJP and Reliance Defence have dismissed all the allegations as false.

Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with then French President Francois Hollande on 10 April 2015, in Paris.

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