Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of lying to Parliament about the procurement order worth Rs. 1 lakh crore for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Congress president demanded the defence minister to place documents of government orders before Parliament or submit her resignation. “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. Tomorrow, RM must place before Parliament documents showing 1 Lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL. Or resign,” the Gandhi scion tweeted.
Congress spokesperson also joined his party president in calling the defence minister’s “bluff” and claimed that not a single paisa has gone to the HAL and the defence manufacturer was forced to take a loan to pay the salaries of its employees.
“The Lying Defence Minister’s Lies Gets Exposed! Def Min claimed that procurement orders worth ₹1 Lakh Cr 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 ₹1000 Cr to pay salaries!” Surjewala said.
On Friday, responding to the Congress party’s allegations of corruption in the procurement deal of 36 Rafale fighter jets, Sitharaman had told Parliament that the Narendra Modi government had given contracts worth Rs 1 lakh crore to HAL.
"The Congress is shedding crocodile tears for HAL. The Congress government gave 53 waivers to HAL... We have given contracts worth Rs. 1 lakh crore," the defence minister had said.
The Congress party has been accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of bypassing the experienced state-run HAL to help his “businessman friend” get the offshore contract of the Rafale fighter jets.
Surjewala had slammed the Modi government on Saturday as well. Quoting a media report, the Congress leader said that under the Modi government India’s largest public sector defence unit was starving for cash and borrowed money for the first time in the 70 years.
“Under Modiji, India’s Largest Public Sector Defence Unit, HAL does not even have enough cash to pay salaries to its employees. For the first time in 70 years, they were forced to borrow ₹1000 Cr. Despite that, No Rafale contract for them! Apathetic!” he had said.