Rahul Gandhi Calls Rafale Deal HAL's Right, Angry Employees Say 'Modi Govt Let us Down'
When the Congress president asked the employees how they felt when Rafale was given to a private firm, the collective response was, 'We felt let down and annoyed when Rafale was not given to us.'
Congress President Rahul Gandhi leaves after an interaction with a group of working and retired employees of the state-run aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, in Bengaluru on Saturday. (Image: PTI)
Bengaluru: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was in Bengaluru on Saturday to meet the present and former employees of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), where he launched fresh attacks on the Modi government for its decision to drop the state-run aerospace defence company from the Rafale fighter jet deal.
During the course of the event, HAL employees, who had gathered for an interactive session with Rahul Gandhi, expressed their anger against the Centre’s decision to outsource the Rafale jets despite having HAL.
"We are not begging to give the Rafale tender to us. Rather, the HAL deserves it. It has a history of providing the best logistics and technology to the Indian defence. Besides, the deal would have been a boon in generating employment to the Indian youth," said Sirajuddin, a former employee of HAL.
Even the United States of America used to import certain defence products manufactured by HAL earlier, he added.
Stepping up his campaign against the Narendra Modi government, Rahul described HAL as a "strategic asset" in aerospace, adding that the country owed a debt to it. "....HAL is a strategic asset in aerospace, not an ordinary or regular company. Rafale is your right. You have the experience to build the plane," Rahul said at the event organised at Minsk Square near the HAL headquarters.
When the Congress president asked the employees how they felt when Rafale was given to a private firm, the collective response was, “We felt let down and annoyed when Rafale was not given to us.”
"It is a sheer disrespect to the HAL. Pakistan had bought Sabre Jets from America, but HAL was the one that stood by and facilitated the Indian Army with advanced fighter jets," the employees added.
Remembering former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the employees said that his contributions to HAL are memorable.
One of HAL’s employee further alleged that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is also getting more and more privatised in these years. "Earlier, we have produced highly equipped fighter jets and when we had made MIG-21, Russia had appreciated us," he added.
Another employee alleged that the Union government is "trying to destroy the state-owned HAL", adding that the employees' association of HAL had decided to go on a strike on October 22.
Addressing the gathering, Rahul pledged to fight for HAL and promised to do everything to save the state-owned defence manufacturing company.
Rahul’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 party had been accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "snatching jobs of people of Karnataka by taking away the contract from HAL."
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