Rejecting “doubts” raised by the Congress on her statement on HAL contracts as “incorrect and misleading”, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said in Lok Sabha that the government-run defence undertaking has been awarded works worth over Rs 26,000 crore and projects amounting to Rs 73,000 crore are in the pipeline.
Her clarification came amid a political furore over her statement in the House regarding orders placed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), with Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleging that she had “lied” that government orders worth Rs one lakh crore were provided to the company.
Amid protests by opposition members, Sitharaman told Lok Sabha Monday, “I would like to set all doubts to rest… the doubts raised in this regard are incorrect and misleading.”
The minister said she has received confirmation that contract amounting to more than Rs 26,000 crore have already been signed between 2014-18.
Procurement order specifically mentions 83 Tejas aircraft worth Rs 50,000 crore, 200 helicopters worth Rs 20,000 crore, 19 dornier aircraft worth Rs 3,400 crore, other helicopters worth Rs 15,000 crore and aero-engine worth Rs 8,400 crore.
Orders worth Rs 73,000 crore are in the pipeline, she noted, adding that all of them put together amount to Rs 1 lakh crore, she said.
“Above documents clearly confirm correctness of my statement and the doubts raised in this regard are incorrect and misleading,” the minister said.
Congress MP K C Venugopal said his party has moved a breach of privilege against the defence minister for “misleading the House”. To this, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the notice was with her.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge quoted HAL CMD R Madhavan to support his party’s contention that the company was struggling financially and demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe into the matter.
He claimed that Sitharaman had sought to correct her statement and said wrong facts should not be put before the House.
Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal questioned if Kharge would authenticate the report he was quoting, while some other BJP leaders took a jibe at the party while referring to a defence dealer, who is wanted in criminal cases.