Lok Sabha is likely to see stormy scenes on Monday as the BJP and the main opposition party Congress continue to make allegations and counter-allegations on the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.
What has further added fuel to the ongoing controversy is the issue of procurement orders worth Rs 1 lakh crore to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) from the Defence Ministry.
Though the process of ordering has been started, no actual orders from the Defence Ministry have been made, said media reports.
HAL has become another flashpoint between the ruling BJP and the Congress-led Opposition with Defence Minister Sitharaman accusing Rahul Gandhi of “misleading” the country without fully understanding the issue and ”spreading lies.”.
Congress has alleged that government denied HAL the offset contract under the Rafale fighter jets deal with France.
On the contrary, BJP has accused the Congress of not supporting HAL during its rule.
Interestingly, both the Congress and the BJP have issued whips, asking their MPs to be present in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
Rahul Gandhi had on Sunday demanded that Sitharaman either place documents before the Parliament to prove her claim that government orders worth Rs one lakh crore were provided to HAL, or resign.
“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 lied to Parliament,” Rahul said in a tweet.
“Tomorrow (Monday), RM (Sitharaman) must place before Parliament documents showing 1 Lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL. Or resign,” he tweeted.
Hitting back at Rahul, Sitharaman said that it is a matter of “shame” that the Congress chief was “misleading” the country without fully understanding the issue.
Suggesting that Gandhi jumped the gun while making the charges following a media report, Sitharaman’s office tweeted that Gandhi should “start from ABCs” and read the complete report before commenting on it.
“It’s a shame that the president of @INCIndia is misleading the nation. HAL has signed contracts worth Rs 26570.8 Cr (Between 2014 and 2018) and contracts worth Rs 73000 Cr are in the pipeline. Will @RahulGandhi apologise to the country from the floor of the house?,” Sitharaman tweeted from the defence minister’s official handle.
She also tweeted details of contract awarded to HAL since 2014 when BJP came to power.
According to her, the Rs 49,797 crore contract to HAL for supply of 83 light combat aircraft Tejas to the Indian Air Force was at the stage of technical evaluation stage. Another contract, whose tentative size is Rs 20,000 crore, for supply of a batch of Kamov Ka 226 T helicopters was also in the similar stage.