New Delhi, Sep 18: In a veiled attack, the Congress on Tuesday said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has damaged the reputation of India’s prestigious HAL nationally and globally.
Addressing a press conference, Former Union Minister AK Antony stated ” Sitharaman claimed that HAL does not have the capability to manufacture these aircraft. In fact, that is the only aerospace company in India to do so. It was awarded Navaratna status. HAL has manufactured 4660 aircraft of 31 types”.
Targeting the Defence Minister, he said: “Sitharaman has damaged the reputation of India’s prestigious HAL nationally and internationally”.
“During UPA rule, HAL was a profit-making company. Under Modi govt, for the first time in history, HAL has taken approximately ₹1000Cr loan from various banks”.
Antony further said “Modi government is guilty of compromising national security. They have been repeatedly saying that new Rafale deal is cheaper.
“If that was the case, why is the govt buying only 36 aircrafts?”, the Congress leader asked.
“The requirement for 126 aircrafts by IAF was in 2000. In 2018, the threat perception from our border nations has increased than in 2000”.
“Out of 126 aircrafts, 18 were be to be delivered by France in fly-away condition. The remaining 108 were to be manufactured in India by HAL”, he added.
The Congress leader revealed that before his party demitted from office, the negotiations were over. He said “After NDA came, PM Modi announced unilateral purchase of 36 aircrafts on 10th April, 2015”.
When IAF demanded 126 aircrafts, who authorised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reduce the number to 36?, Antony questioned.
Citing Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), the Congress leader stated “only the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by DM and consisting of 3 service Chiefs can decide the number of aircrafts/weapons. PM Modi’s decision is a clear violation of DPP”.
“If UPA deal wasn’t cancelled, HAL would’ve acquired state-of-the-art technology through a transfer of technology. They would’ve gained experience to manufacture fighter aircrafts. India lost this opportunity”, he asserted.