Rahul Gandhi was scheduled to hold an interaction event with employees and former employees of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited today at Cubbon Park. But the HAL employees association has reportedly officially distanced itself from the meeting.
According to a report in the News Minute, Suryadevara Chandra Sekhar, the general secretary of HAL’s employee’s union, stated that the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee had approached the HAL employees union and had formally requested them to be present at the event. But as HAL is a government organisation, they cannot attend a political party’s event. However, if some employees and retired personnel want to attend the event in their individual capacity, they cannot be stopped.
Sekhar, however, has added that the employees union will write to PM Modi highlighting HAL’s contribution to India’s defence capabilities and request him to make sure the PSU is kept at its functional best by getting it more orders from the Indian Air Force.
The HAL had yesterday issued a circular for its employees reminding them of the employees’ code of conduct and asking them not to attend political events. Suryadeva confirmed that the HAL employees union will not be sharing the stage with Rahul Gandhi at the Cubbon Park event.
As per reports, the Bengaluru police has allowed the party to hold a meeting for 90 minutes near the Minsk Square outside HAL corporate office, from 3.30 pm onwards.
A report in Times of India states that Congres has cut down the events’ programs after learning of the employees union decision and is now planning to hold only one ‘interaction with mostly retired and some serving employees’.
Congress party and Rahul Gandhi had aimed the event to launch fresh attacks at the government over their claim that the government has ‘cheated’ HAL in the Rafale deal and ‘gifted it to Anil Ambani’.
HAL is India’s strategic asset. The future of India’s aerospace industry has been destroyed by snatching #Rafale from HAL & gifting it to Anil Ambani.
Come defend the dignity of India’s defenders. I am in Bengaluru to stand with HAL’s employees. Join me outside HAL HQ, at 3 PM. pic.twitter.com/FzfVGZ17Z6
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 13, 2018
After yesterday’s developments, Congress seems to have mellowed down on its claims. The KPCC vice president has reportedly stated, “It is not about Rahul Gandhi coming to meet HAL employees. It is about HAL’s contribution to India and there will be a discussion about it. Anyone can participate, former or present employees and even interested people.”
The Times of India report also states that Congress had initially planned a ‘padayatra’ from Congress Bhavan in Bengaluru to HAL Headquarters, but that event has been cancelled too.
The central government, the French Government, Dassault Aviation and many defence experts have refuted the allegations of Congress claiming ‘Reliance being favoured over HAL’. However, there has been repeated attempts by Congress leadership and a certain section of media to spread misinformation about the deal. With most of HAL employees staying away from the political event, Congress’ plans of pulling the PSU for political mud-slinging seems to have gone astray.