Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday heaped praise on the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in Bengaluru for making India a self-reliant state in the field of defence equipment manufacturing post-independence. Rahul Gandhi arrived for an interaction with serving and former HAL employees in Karnataka’s Bengaluru on Saturday. He interacted with some serving and retired employees of the state-run aerospace and defence company in the context of the defence behemoth not getting offset contract from the Rafale fighter deal.

The Congress president said HAL is not an ordinary company and work done by it is exceptional. When India got independence, HAL built some strategic assets to enter specific areas. The defence equipment manufacturer is a strategic asset to take India into aerospace. The work HAL has done for this country is tremendous and the country owes a debt to you, the Gandhi scion said.

Describing HAL and other factories as “temples of modern India”, Rahul Gandhi said and they are being destroyed and he will not allow these assets to be destroyed.

The public sector is the backbone of this country and of Bengaluru and of the defence forces and he is not only taking about HAL, but also ISRO and DRDO. All these companies that ensured that every Indian is protected and sleeps comfortable at night, Rahul said.

The Congress president said when he was a small boy everybody used to talk about the Gnat aircraft manufactured by HAL. He even vowed to stand with the company’s employees in their discomfort. If somebody thinks they can build their future on your graves that won’t be allowed, you have worked for 70 years and it cannot be destroyed in this manner, he said.

Before his visit to the HAL facility, Rahul Gandhi also interacted with Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in the city.

Amid the ongoing controversy over Rafale deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today visited a production facility of French aerospace major Dassault Aviation near Paris where the Rafale jets to be supplied to India are being manufactured.

In an interview to a foreign publication, Dassault CEO said that the joint venture with Reliance will meet about 10% of the offset obligations required by the 36 Rafale fighters contract with New Delhi.

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