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Sitharaman must submit documentary evidence on HAL contract: Cong's Manish Tewari

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Congress on Sunday demanded documentary evidence of claims made by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on contracts given to HAL and said in its absence the party will demand her resignation in Parliament.

Party spokesperson Manish Tewari said the Congress will press for her resignation in case she fails to substantiate her claim in Parliament that HAL was given contracts worth Rs one lakh crore.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has accused the defence minister of spinning lies in Parliament and said if she fails to provide the evidence on the claims made with regard to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, she should resign.

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 Prime Minister's (Narendra Modi) 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, Gandhi tweeted.

Defence Minister Sitharaman hit back at Gandhi for his remarks, saying read "the complete report" to "which you are referring".

However, as the LS record shows, Sitharaman did not claim the orders were signed, saying they were in the works, Sitharaman tweeted, quoting from the media report to assert that she had not stated in Parliament that the orders to HAL had been signed.

Tewari alleged that the problem with the BJP-led NDA government is that whenever they are confronted with facts, they try and resort to hair splitting.

Chicanery rather than an assertion of the truth has been the syna qua non of this government.

When the Congress president confronted the Defence minister that if you claim that you have given one lakh crore worth of contracts to HAL, then you need to list of those contracts as well as the date when they were signed on the floor of Parliament, he said during a press briefing here.

The Congress leader said it is a strange situation that if a defence PSU like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has funds, why are they borrowing to pay salaries.

The Congress will demand answers from the government in Parliament and if a reply does not come, it will take appropriate steps.

If the defence minister does not provide documents and evidence of the claims made by her, then the Congress party will demand the resignation of the defence minister, he said.

Tewari said Sitharaman will have to make a statement on the floor of Parliament.

If the government is claiming that they have given contracts worth crores to HAL then why does that the PSU have to borrow in order to pay their staff. It just does not add up, he said.

It is the most strange situation, where by a PSU under the Defence Ministry is challenging their ministers repeatedly on each and every assertion which the minister makes with regards to HAL.

So, therefore we would expect that a complete list of those one lakh crore rupees contracts, which the defence minister ostensibly mentioned in her two hour long reply, where verbosity substituted itself for facts. The list of those contracts would be laid down on the table of the House otherwise as the Congress president has said the minister should step down, he said.

She has to reply to the challenge of HAL and back her claims, the Congress leader said.

Tewari also targeted the Modi government over job losses in the past year and cited a think-tank to say that India lost one crore jobs last year.

The NDA government failed to fulfil ts promise of providing 2 crore jobs every year and said the country lost one crore jobs instead, as per a reputed think-tank, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), he claimed.

During 2014 elections, Mr. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi had promised 'Acche Din', which included 2 crore jobs every year. In five years, this sums up to 10 crore.

But recently, a reputed think-tank CMIE released a report on employment. It states that more than 1 crore people lost their jobs in just one year (2018), he said.

The Congress leader said as per the report, in December 2017, 40.79 crore people were employed. In 2018, it was reduced to 39.07 crore.

Which means more than 1 crore people lost their jobs. It's astonishing that more than 80 per cent of those unemployed were women and more than 90 per cent belonged to rural India, he said citing the report.

Tewari also claimed that India's unemployment rate had increased to 7.4 pc in December 2018.

This is the highest in a decade. Daily wage labourers and small businesses suffered the most. These are the same who were affected by Demonetisation, he said.

Tewari said the Modi government has failed to understand that distress in society and smooth functioning of economy do not go hand in hand.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 06 2019. 20:11 IST