Congress President Rahul Gandhi will address the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) employees at Minsk Square in Cubbon Park on Saturday to step up pressure against the government on the controversial Rafale fighter aircraft agreement.
The interaction has been scheduled at 3:30 pm. The Congress scion will speak how the centre 'favoured Reliance' over HAL in the deal, according to a tweet by the Karnataka Congress.
"HAL is India's strategic asset. The future of India's aerospace industry has been destroyed by snatching #Rafale from HAL & gifting it to Anil Ambani," the Congress president tweeted.
"Come defend the dignity of India's defenders. I am in Bengaluru to stand with HAL’s employees. Join me outside HAL HQ, at 3 PM," he added.
Meanwhile, the HAL administration has asked its employees not to meet the Congress President.
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.
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.
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.