- Rahul Gandhi interacted with HAL employees outside its HQ in Bengaluru
- Mr Gandhi said he was "standing in support" of the state-run HAL
- Mr Gandhi said the Rafale contract was 'gifted' to Anil Ambani
Rahul Gandhi met employees of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL today, amid allegations and counter-allegations over the Rafale fighter jet deal and its offset clause.
"I have not come here to give a speech, I have come to listen to you," Mr Gandhi said, as he began his interaction with HAL employees, including some who are retired now.
"When we got Independence, India built some strategic assets. While IIT was a strategic asset for higher education, HAL was one to pioneer India in aerospace," Mr Gandhi said.
He went on to say, "The country owes you (HAL) for protecting it. You are part of the country's vision. When Barack Obama said India and China are the only countries in the world that can challenge the US in this field, he said it because of you (HAL)."
Concluding his brief introduction, Mr Gandhi said, "I want to know how you all feel about the Rafale deal which was snatched from you." He then handed the mic over to those attending the meet.
Scaling up his attack on Narendra Modi government, Rahul Gandhi has claimed that Dassault, the firm that makes the Rafale jet, has been pressured by the government to select Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as its offset partner, instead of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The government has rubbished Mr Gandhi's claim.
Mr Gandhi, who is "standing in support" of HAL, met and interacted with the employees of the public sector unit outside its headquarters in Bengaluru.
The Congress chief said there was a need to "defend the dignity of India's defenders" as he accused the government of "snatching" the Rafale offset contract from HAL.
"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," the Congress president tweeted.
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.- Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 13, 2018
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. pic.twitter.com/FzfVGZ17Z6
Rahul Gandhi has been attacking the Modi government over the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal accusing the prime minister of "corruption".
(With inputs from PTI)