Rahul Gandhi’s doubts on HAL ‘incorrect’, ‘misleading’: Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: Taking on Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s challenge, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the doubts raised about her Parliament statement were “incorrect” and “misleading” and produced documents to show that contracts worth Rs. 26,570 crore have been signed with the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and more orders worth Rs. 73,000 crore were in the pipeline for it.

“Doubts are being raised about my statement in Parliament regarding procurement orders for HAL …. I want to inform that the doubts are incorrect and misleading,” the Defence Minister said in the Lok Sabha.

On Sunday, the Congress President had alleged that the Defence Minister has “lied” in Parliament that government orders worth Rs one lakh crore were provided to HAL, while demanding that she should either place the documents in support of her statement in the House 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 (Raksha Mantri) lied to Parliament. Tomorrow, RM must place before Parliament documents showing 1 Lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Sunday.

The Congress President’s attack was based on a media report claiming “not a single rupee of the said Rs 1 lakh crore has come to HAL.”

In Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said that she had “confirmation” from the HAL that between 2014 and 2018, the company had signed contracts worth Rs. 26,570 crore and contracts worth Rs. 73,000 crore were in the pipeline which come together around Rs one lakh crore.

She mentioned that that contracts in the pipeline included 83 LCA Mark1A for Rs. 50,000 crore, 15 Light Combat Helicopters for Rs. 3,000 crore and another helicopter contract for 200 light helicopters were in line.

She also mentioned that contracts worth Rs. 3,400 crore for 19 Dornier planes, helicopters for Rs. 15,000 crore and Aero engines 8,000 crore have been signed.

She also laid down the details of the contracts with HAL as part of her statement in the Lok Sabha.

After Gandhi’s tweets, Nirmala Sitharaman had countered it in tweets saying “It’s a shame that the president of @INCIndia is misleading the nation. HAL has signed contracts worth Rs. 26,570. 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?” the defence minister tweeted.

Earlier on Monday, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge moved a notice under rule 193 in the Lok Sabha, demanding a joint parliamentary committee to probe the Rafale jet deal with France. The party has been protesting in both Houses of the Parliament on the matter.

Congress MP KC Venugopal also gave a notice to move a privilege motion against the Defence Minister for allegedly misleading the House on the matter.