Congress accuses defence minister of ‘lying’ on procurement orders given to HAL

Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi | The Congress on Sunday accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of “lying” that procurement orders worth Rs 1 lakh crore were provided to HAL, saying the aerospace major had stated that “not a single paisa” had come to it.

The allegation came a day after Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “weakening” the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to help his “suit-boot” friend.

The opposition party has been targeting the government, alleging that it denied HAL an offset contract under the Rafale fighter jets deal with France, a charge the government has denied.

The BJP-led NDA government has accused the Congress of not supporting HAL during its rule and asserted that the government is now strengthening the defence public sector undertaking.

Gandhi’s attack on Saturday came after a media report claimed that HAL, grappling with low finances, was forced to borrow Rs 1,000 crore to pay salaries to its employees for the first time in years.

Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted on Sunday: “The Lying Defence Minister’s Lies Get Exposed! Defence Minister claimed that procurement orders worth Rs 1 Lakh Crore 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!,” he added.

Surjewala cited a media report which claimed that “not a single rupee of the said Rs 1 lakh crore has come to HAL, since not a single order, as claimed, has been signed till now”. The media report cited senior HAL management officials in order to back its claim.

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