Congress President Rahul Gandhi's plan to step up his attack on the government by taking the battle to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) suffered a setback on Thursday as the aerospace major declined to host his meeting with the employees.
Speaking on behalf of HAL, chief of media communications Gopal Sutar said that there is no communication on Rahul Gandhi's meeting with its employees in Bengaluru.
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Rao told ANI that the Congress chief will be attending an event in Bengaluru, which has been organised to discuss HAL's contribution to India.
"It is not that Rahul Gandhi is coming to meet HAL employees. It is about HAL's contribution to India and on this topic there is going to be a discussion. In this program anyone can participate, ex-HAL employees, HAL employees, people interested in HAL developments or who have faith and pride in the company, can participate," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
However, post HAL's statement, the Congress party has decided to move it's president's interactive meet to Minsk Square near Cubbon Park instead of convention centre at HAL headquarters on Cubbon Road. KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao said Mr Gandhi will interact with HAL employees about the contribution of HAL. "Since the HAL Employees Association is controlled by a Left leaning trade union, employees associated with them have all the more reason to welcome Mr Gandhi for the interaction," he said.
During the interaction, Gandhi is likely to elicit the opinion of employees about the company getting a raw deal from the Modi government on the Rafale deal depriving them of jobs and high end technical work which could have come through if the previous UPA government's deal on Rafale was implemented.
Gandhi who will land in the city Saturday afternoon, is likely to spend an hour and a half at Minsk Square before returning to Delhi the same evening. The Congress party has cancelled the rally it had planned in the outskirts of the city.
The Congress, which has been accusing the government of benefiting the Reliance Defence Ltd of Anil Ambani from the deal, has also been demanding answers on why the state-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal as finalised during the UPA.
The party had been accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of snatching jobs of people of Karnataka by taking away the contract from HAL.
Gandhi had been saying that had HAL been selected in place of Reliance Defence it could have generated employment to scores of unemployed youth in the state.
The Congress party has also ben alleging grave irregularities in the deal. The party states that the Modi government has been procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government in 2012.
However, the BJP has dismissed all allegations as false.
Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with then French President Francois Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.