Quoting Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) employees, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the defence PSU employees are feeling insulted after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre questioned their 70 years of hard work.
Stepping up his attack on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government over the Rafale controversy, the Gandhi scion made the remark while interacting with present and former employees of HAL here.
"HAL employees told me that they are the most experienced and best company in India to manufacture defense equipment. For 70 years they have been making aircraft. They are insulted and hurt that their hard work for the last 70 years has been questioned by the government of India through the Defense Minister," he said.
"The defense minister comments on lack of experience of HAL but she does not have anything to say on lack of experience of Anil Ambani, HAL has no debt but he has 45,000 crores of debt. HAL has been working for 70-80years but his company has been working for 12 days. It's pretty clear that there is no comparison between the capabilities of the two companies. We are here to defend the people who are defending the nation," he added.
Rahul also described HAL as a "strategic asset" in aerospace.
He said, "HAL for me is not just an ordinary company. When we got our independence, India built some strategic assets. These assets were designed to enter particular spaces like IIT was an asset to the higher education space. Similarly, HAL is a strategic asset to take India into aerospace."
"All the people who have worked at HAL or are working here have done tremendous work for this country and country owes a debt to them for protecting us and creating a scientific atmosphere and vision in the country. When former President of USA Obama says that the only countries that can challenge the USA in future are India and China, one reason why he says that is because of the work that HAL has done," he added.
Rahul, also indirectly took a dig at Reliance Defence Ltd and said that the Company which bagged the Rafal deal is an inexperienced firm.
"If someone thinks that they can build their future on your grave, we are not going to allow it. There is a tremendous amount of experience that HAL and its employees have and this cannot be destroyed or wiped out in this manner. We are going to fight for the right of HAL employees. Rafale is the HAL's right because it is the only company in India that has the experience to build that plane. We fundamentally believe that India's defense preparedness can only be saved if companies like HAL and DRDO are protected."
During the interaction, a number of former HAL employees took to the dais to share their views about HAL, HAL's achievements and their experience of working with the company.
The Congress has alleged corruption in Rafale deal and has also accused the Centre of overlooking HAL in the offsets contracts with French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, preferring Anil Ambani's company, thereby causing a loss of jobs.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)