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Nirmala Sitharaman hits back at Rahul Gandhi for ‘misleading’ nation over HAL contracts

The Congress has been targeting the government, alleging that it denied the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) an offset contract under the Rafale fighter jets deal with France, a charge the government has denied.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 6, 2019 11:23:19 pm
rafale row Sitharaman said it was a matter of “shame” that the Congress president was misleading the country on the issue.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has strongly hit back at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for raising doubt over multi crores contracts given to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) saying “he should apologise for misleading the nation.”

Alleging that Sitharaman “lied” in Parliament by claiming the Modi government gave orders worth Rs one lakh crore to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Gandhi had said that the minister should either place the documents in support of her statement in the House or resign.

Gandhi’s attack came after a media report claimed that “not a single rupee of the said Rs 1 lakh crore has come to HAL, since not a single order, as claimed, has been signed till now”. The media report cited senior HAL management officials in order to back its claim.

“When you tell one lie, you need to keep spinning out more lies, to cover up the first one. In her eagerness to defend the PM’s Rafale lie, the RM lied to Parliament,” Gandhi tweeted along with the media report.

“Tomorrow, RM must place before Parliament documents showing 1 Lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL. Or resign,” he said.

In her response, Sitharaman said it was a matter of “shame” that the Congress president was misleading the country on the issue. She also tweeted details of the contract awarded to HAL since 2014 when the BJP came to power.

Gandhi had on Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “weakening” HAL to help his “suit-boot” friend.

Gandhi’s attack on Saturday had come over a media report which claimed that HAL, grappling with low finances, was forced to borrow Rs 1,000 crore to pay salaries to its employees for the first time in years.

Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted on Sunday: “The Lying Defence Minister’s Lies Get Exposed! Defence Minister claimed that procurement orders worth Rs 1 Lakh Crore provided to HAL! HAL says Not a SINGLE PAISA has come, as Not a SINGLE ORDER has been signed!”

“For the first time, HAL forced to take a loan of Rs. 1000 Cr to pay salaries!” he added.

The Congress has been targeting the government, alleging that it denied the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) an offset contract under the Rafale fighter jets deal with France, a charge the government has denied.

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