Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the financial crisis of India’s largest public sector defence unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Congress president claimed that the Modi government has not paid the HAL’s dues of Rs 20,000 crore for completed projects but paid almost the same amount to Dassault Aviation – a company responsible for manufacturing Rafale fighter aircraft – for undelivered planes.
“The Modi Govt has not paid HAL's dues of 20,000 (till March 31st) crore for goods already delivered, almost exactly the amount Dassault that has already been paid for goods not yet delivered. Is PM Modi trying to bankrupt HAL to help Double A,” Gandhi told reporters.
The Congress chief said that the Modi government made payment to Dassault despite objections from the Defence Ministry officials who had asked the French manufacturer to provide a Sovereign Guarantee by France.
“The payment to Dassault was made over the objections of Defence Ministry officials, who had asked for (as is norm) Bank Guarantee from Dassault or a Sovereign Guarantee by France. Neither of which were provided. Did PM Modi make such a huge exemption for Double A?” Gandhi said.
The Congress president also took on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for “lying” in Parliament about the Rs 1 lakh crore contracts to HAL. “DM Nirmala Sitharaman claims they are helping HAL, but Dassault has received Rs 20,000 Cr without even delivering the aircraft, whereas Govt owes HAL ₹15700Cr on completed projects,” the Congress chief said.
Earlier in the day, Sitharaman rejected Rahul Gandhi's accusations and reitarated that the Rs 1 lakh crore order have been given to the state-run defence manufacturer but with a twist. She said that most of the orders were in pipeline.