New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has lied in the Parliament claiming Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has given Rs 1 lakh crore to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
This comes after Sitharaman in the Parliament said that the doubts raised about her recent statement were “incorrect” and “misleading”, and produced documents to show that contracts worth Rs. 26,570 crore have been signed with the HAL and more orders worth Rs. 73,000 crore were in the pipeline.
While addressing media at the Parliament, Rahul stated: “We’ve challenged that Modi government has given Rs 1 lakh crore to HAL and today the Defence Minister said that Rs. 26,570 crore have been given to HAL, which clearly shows that she has lied in the Parliament.”
Reading Nirmala’s statement given in the Parliament earlier on Monday, Rahul said: “It’s written here that a request for proposals and cases that technical evaluation committee…, this doesn’t mean you’re giving money. The actual money given under the deals was Rs. 26,570 crore, which is a complete lie.”
“I have raised a simple question- when the Prime Minister conducted a bypass surgery on Rafale and decided to buy only 36 jets against 126, did the Defence Ministry and Indian Air Force (IAF) officials raise objections against his interference in the deal, yes or no?” he said.
Criticising the Defence Minister, the Gandhi scion asserted: “Nirmala ji, who is the spokesperson of Modi ji, gave excuses in the Parliament to save herself from a question regarding the IAF officials’ objection on the Prime Minister’s interfere in the deal.”
“The Defence Minister claimed that the government is helping HAL, Dassault has received Rs. 20,000 crore without even delivering a single aircraft, whereas the payment of Rs. 15,700 crore of government-owned HAL on completed projects is still pending,” he further said.
“It was necessary to destroy HAL because with strong HAL you cannot give any contract to the foreign company. Weakening HAL, not giving them their pending dues reflect that the government is destroying India’s strategic capability,” Rahul added.
Rahul further attacked Anil Ambani stating that “on what basis did Anil Ambani receive the Rs. 30,000 crore worth project? I still haven’t received an answer to this”.
Challenging the Prime Minister to debate with him for 15 minutes over Rafale jet deal, Rahul stated, “The Prime Minister, who claimed to be the ‘Chowkidar’ (watchman) of the nation, cannot come to the Lok Sabha as he fears to enter the House. He won’t come because ‘chowkidar’ has led the whole Rafale burglary.”
“The Congress is just protecting HAL and telling the youngsters of this country that we won’t allow Rs. 30,000 crore of your money to be taken by Anil Ambani because he is a dear friend of Modi ji,” he added.
The Supreme Court on December 14 last year had dismissed all petitions seeking court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal with France, saying that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the deal. The apex court had said it was not its job to go into the issue of pricing.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, said that there was no need to conduct an investigation into the details of Rafale pricing.
The Rafale jet deal controversy has been on the boil over the last few months. The Congress and other opposition parties have been alleging irregularities in the high-profile deal.