Stepping up his attack on the Modi government over the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday accused it of weakening state-run aerospace major HAL and destroying India's strategic capability to benefit businessman Anil Ambani.
He also alleged that while the government gave Rs 20,000 crore to Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale jets, even though it has not supplied a single aircraft.
"But, why HAL's dues of Rs 15,700 crore have not been cleared," Rahul asked.
He was speaking to reporters outside the parliament.
"The strategy of the government is—weaken HAL, do not give it money, destroy India's strategic capability and give 'gift' to Anil Ambani," Gandhi alleged.
The government as well as Ambani have rejected all such allegations.
He also alleged that the "best" engineers and scientists from cash-strapped HAL will be forced to move to the Anil Ambani group that has the Rafale fighter jet contract.
This will happen as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) does not have enough money to pay salaries to its employees and Ambani needs its talent to deliver on his contract, Gandhi said.
"That HAL doesn't have enough cash to pay salaries, isn't surprising. Anil Ambani has Rafale. He now needs HAL's brilliant talent pool to deliver on his contracts. Without salaries, HAL's best engineers and scientists will be forced to move to AA's venture," he said on Twitter.
Gandhi said this while citing a report whereby cash-strapped HAL has taken loans to pay salaries to its employees.
Asserting that the Congress will protect the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), he alleged, "we are not going to allow Rs 30,000 crores of people's money to be taken by Anil Ambani because he is Narendra Modi's friend."
Gandhi further said, "Give me 15 minutes with PM Modi for a debate on Rafale, the country will know the truth."
The Congress president also slammed Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for "lying in Parliament" and evading his questions on Rafale in her reply to the debate on the issue.