Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government from outside the headquarters of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru in Karnataka. After interacting with employees and ex-employees of HAL, the Gandhi scion said that the public sector unit firm’s staff members wanted an apology from Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over her statement on Rafale deal.
“They (HAL employees) expect an apology from the Defence Minister for insulting HAL. We understand that she won’t apologise. She comments on the lack of experience of HAL but she does not have anything to say on the lack of experience of Anil Ambani,” the Congress president told mediapersons.
Rahul Gandhi further alleged that the “hard work and patriotism” of the HAL employees have been “insulted”.
“They (HAL employees) said that they are the most experienced and best company in India to manufacture defence equipment. They are insulted and hurt that their hard work and patriotism has been insulted and questioned by the government of India,” the Gandhi scion further said.
Earlier, addressing the employees and former employees of HAL, the Congress president had said that he would not allow the “temples of modern India” to be “destroyed”.
Some employees and ex-employees of HAL also spoke at the event organised outside the company’s headquarters in Bengaluru. One of the senior employees said that he and other staff members felt insulted because of the government taking away the Rafale contract and giving it to Reliance Defence.
The employees asserted that HAL had given the Indian Air Force several jets and aircraft and has all the qualification and capability required for Rafale fighter jets. Addressing the gathering, former general secretary and convenor of HAL union earlier said, "Defence Minister said that HAL does not have the capability, but I want to say that HAL is very capable".