Rahul Gandhi said that the “temples of modern India were being attacked and destroyed" while speaking about the status of public sector companies in the country.

After companys memo only a few HAL employees attend public meeting with Rahul Gandhi
news Politics Sunday, October 14, 2018 - 11:18

The headquarters of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Minsk Square in Bengaluru served as the picturesque backdrop for Congress President Rahul Gandhi's interaction with current and former employees of the governmental aerospace company. In a forty-minute salvo, Rahul Gandhi raised the inevitable question regarding the decision to overlook the public sector company in the Rafale deal, to locally manufacture components of the Rafale jets.

"A senior government official claimed that HAL does not have the capacity to build Rafale Jets. I want to ask, what about the person who got the contract? What sort of experience does Anil Ambani have?" he questioned, whilst pointing at the HAL employees seated amongst the audience. He further accused the central government of corruption in the deal.

A section of HAL employees, who attended the meeting, was seen nodding their heads in apparent response to the question.

Rahul Gandhi further added that the “temples of modern India were being attacked and destroyed" while speaking about the status of public sector companies in the country. "If somebody thinks that they will build their future on your (HAL) graveyard, I will not allow it. I will stand with you all,” he said.

The pointed question of the Rafale deal was raised after a series of current and former HAL employees expressed their concern at the current state of affairs at the company including the decision to hand the Rafale contract to Reliance, a private company.

"Aircraft division of HAL has done minimal work in the last two years due to a lack of orders. Around 2,000 employees are sitting idle due to this," Siddalingaiah, Head of the SC/ST Association in HAL said.

The employees also pointed out that an advisory was sent to them by the company's management asking them to not attend the interaction with Rahul Gandhi. "For the first time, management of HAL has sent an advisory asking employees not to attend the meeting today. We are hurt and insulted by the decision to overlook HAL for the Rafale deal. We are not begging but based on merit, we deserved it," Sirajuddin, a retired employee of HAL said.

Read : ‘Better to skip meeting with Rahul Gandhi’: HAL employees union to staff

Rahul Gandhi's meeting with HAL employees assumed significance in the wake of his consistent criticism of the central government over its decision to overlook the company in the deal to manufacture Rafale jet components. He had also accused the BJP of changing the terms of the deal to allow Reliance, a private company, to replace HAL in the deal.

The meeting took place outside HAL's headquarters after it faced opposition from members of the company.

The company's management has issued a circular warning against any noticeable engagement with a political party under the employees’ code of conduct. The employees union reiterated the same caution but confirmed that individual choice will be respected. “People can attend the event as it is their individual choice. We will not be sharing the stage with Rahul Gandhi at the event,” clarified Suryadevara Chandra Shekhar, General Secretary of HAL's Employees Union.

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