STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Former HAL boss 'nailed' Nirmala Sitharaman's lie, 'Rafale minister' must resign: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul took to Twitter to attack Sitharaman, alleging that her position as the defence minister has become untenable as a former chief of HAL has "nailed her lie".

Published: 20th September 2018 11:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2018 01:58 AM   |  A+A-

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (left) and Congress President Rahul Gandhi (right) have been at the centre of Congress and BJP's conflict over the Rafale fighter jet deal. (Photos | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Congress Thursday demanded that Nirmala Sitharaman resigns as defence minister for "lying" on the Rafale deal and said her "position has become untenable" as a former HAL chief has "nailed her lie".

Party president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to attack Sitharaman and accused her of "lying" on the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's capability to build Rafale aircraft.

"The RM (Rafale Minister) tasked with defending corruption has been caught lying again. The former HAL Chief, T S Raju, has nailed her lie, that HAL didn't have the capability to build the RAFALE. Her position is untenable & she must resign," he tweeted and tagged a media report on the former HAL chief's assertion.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said Sitharaman should resign for allegedly "misleading" the people on the Rafale deal and said the government's arguments have been "demolished" by the statement of a former chief of the state-run HAL.

He cited the remarks of former HAL chief T Suvarna Raju to attack Sitharaman over the issue of HAL's capability to build the Rafale aircraft.

Tewari hit out at Sitharaman for alleging that the UPA did not extend support to HAL when the state-run company was engaged in talks with French firm Dassault Aviation for the manufacturer of Rafale jets in India under the offset agreement.

He said the former HAL chief had made certain "extremely pertinent points" that "absolutely demolish" the entire case that the NDA government has been trying to build on the Rafale issue.

"We demand the resignation of the defence minister on the charge of misleading the people of India. After the disclosure which has been made today by the former head of HAL, the defence minister has no moral authority or no moral right to continue even for a second," he said.

Tewari said that Raju had made it clear in his statement that HAL and Dassault had signed the mutual workshare contract and given it to the government.

The first question that arises is that did the defence minister of India intentionally tried to mislead the people of India, the Congress leader said.

He also reiterated the Congress demand of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal.

The Congress spokesperson also cited that Raju had stated that HAL would have built Rafale jets, had the government closed the original contract for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

Therefore, the government's argument that because HAL and Dassault could not come to an agreement and so the 126 MMRCA contract had to be scrapped does not hold, he said.

"What has happened today has really blown the defence minister's assertion out of the water," Tewari said.

He also cited Raju's remarks that HAL had built a 25-tonne Sukhoi-30, a fourth-generation fighter jet that forms the mainstay of the Air Force, from raw material stage, and maintained the Mirage-2000 aircraft, manufactured by Rafale maker Dassault Aviation, to highlight the public sector undertaking's capability.

"The nailer is that he (ex-HAL chief) says that if the 126 MMRCA contract would have gone through, India would have been self reliant in so far as the fighter aircraft platform is concerned," Tewari said.

"What happened to Make in India. Make in India seems to have gone out the window," he said.

The Congress has alleged that the government caused loss of over Rs 41,000 crore to the exchequer and endangered national security by bypassing the state-run HAL in favour of some businessman "friends" for offset contract in the Rafale deal.

Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

Sitharaman had earlier told PTI that it was former defence minister A K Antony's unprecedented intervention that led to the deal being cancelled after the price negotiation committee had almost finalised the deal.

The charge has been denied by Antony as false.

Sitharaman had also accused Antony of not supporting HAL in getting the Rafale deal.

The Congress has stepped up the attack on the government over the Rafale deal and is seeking to make it a major poll issue ahead of assembly elections in some key states later this year and the parliamentary election in 2019.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments(2)

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

  • Joseph Mangsuanhau

    If not HAL who then can possibly built Aircrafts in India??? The assertion of the Minister of Defence is very ridiculous.
    1 year ago reply
  • R.K.GARTIA

    Some texts are self explanatory. This in one . These thing have so common all over the world that ordinary citizens have accepted global practice .Some brave do occasionally expose
    1 year ago reply
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp