‘Rafale is your right’, Rahul Gandhi tells HAL employees; flays Modi govt for ‘snatching’ dealhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/rahul-gandhi-rafale-jet-deal-hal-strategic-asset-congress-bjp-modi-france-hollande-5400723/

‘Rafale is your right’, Rahul Gandhi tells HAL employees; flays Modi govt for ‘snatching’ deal

He said the HAL has played a major role for "protecting us" and creating a scientific vision. "....HAL is a strategic asset in aerospace, not an ordinary or regular company," Gandhi said.

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The latest attack by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on the central government over Rafale deal came during an interaction with HAL workers in Bengaluru. (PTI)

Intensifying his attack on the BJP-led central government over the raging Rafale deal controversy, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday described Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a “strategic asset” in aerospace and said the country owed a debt to it. Interacting with the present and former employees of the defence PSU, Rahul said the HAL contributed immensely towards the protection of the country.

Gandhi said the HAL has played a major role for “protecting us” and creating a scientific vision. “….HAL is a strategic asset in aerospace, not an ordinary or regular company,” he said at an event organised at Minsk Square near the HAL headquarters in Bengaluru.

He flayed the government over the Rafale deal and said that HAL had been overlooked in the offsets contracts with French aerospace company Dassault Aviation preferring Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence. He said the government will not apologise to HAL for snatching their jobs but he will, on behalf of the Centre.

“Rafale is your right. You have the experience to build the plane,” Rahul told HAL’s present and former employees, reports PTI.

The Congress chief 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.”

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“HAL is India’s strategic asset. The future of India’s aerospace industry has been destroyed by snatching #Rafale from HAL & gifting it to Anil Ambani. Come defend the dignity of India’s defenders. I am in Bengaluru to stand with HAL’s employees. Join me outside HAL HQ, at 3 PM,” the Congress President tweeted earlier in the day.

The Congress, which has been accusing the government of benefiting the Reliance Defence Ltd 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.

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

-With PTI inputs