'Shame' That Rahul Gandhi 'misleading' People over HAL: Nirmala Sitharaman
India. (File Image)

New Delhi [India], Jan 6 (ANI): Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his claims that the public sector entity HAL was not being given contracts by the government.

Minster Sitharaman said: "It is a shame that Gandhi is misleading the public as contracts worth Rs 26,570 crore have been signed with the PSU by armed forces and Rs 73,000 crore worth orders were in the pipeline for it."

She wondered whether the Congress president would 'apologise' and 'resign.'

The entire issue cropped up after Gandhi, quoting some news reports, said the Defence Minister was spinning "mere lies" to defend the Prime Minister's "lies" on the Rafale deal when she had said that HAL was set to get orders worth around Rs one lakh crore during a Parliamentary debate in the Lok Sabha.

Responding to the allegations, Sitharaman's office tweeted details of the orders given to the HAL and the tenders in the pipeline for the only aerospace PSU in the country.

"It is a shame that the President of @INCindia is spreading lies and misleading the country. HAL has signed contracts worth Rs 26,570 crore (between 2014-2018) (tenure of the NDA government) and contracts worth Rs 73,000 crore are in the pipeline. Will @rahulgandhi apologise to the country from the floor of the house and resign," the Defence Minister's office tweeted.

Earlier in the day, Rahul had tweeted saying, "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 (Raksha Mantri) lied to Parliament. Tomorrow, RM must place before Parliament documents showing 1 Lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL. Or resign."

Sitharaman also provided the details of contracts given to the HAL by the three defence forces and the Indian Coast Guard including ALH Dhruv choppers, AL-31 FP and RD-33 engines for fighter aircraft and Dornier aircraft.

The Rs 73,000 crore projects shown in the pipeline include the Rs 49,000 crore light combat aircraft project for supplying 83 LCA Mark1A aircraft to the Air Force, 15 light combat helicopters for the Air Force and the Army and the joint production of the Kamov 226T choppers for replacing the fleet of Cheetah and Chetak choppers.

The entire issue had started when Sitharaman had discussed in detail about the HAL issue in Parliament while debating the Rafale issue in Lok Sabha for over two hours. (ANI)

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