A group of HAL employees alleged a conspiracy by the NDA government to "bleed and shut down" the state-run aerospace major, and demanded it be given the contract for making the remaining tranche of 90 Rafale aircraft under Transfer of Technology (ToT) route.
Addressing a press conference after meeting Congress President Rahul Gandhi over the issue, the employees accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of "attempting to build a false narrative" that HAL is incapable of building the Rafale fighter jet.
Alleging graft in the deal, Gandhi has been accusing the government of overlooking the HAL by giving preference to Reliance Defence. The government has rejected all allegations.
Reliance Defence has also denied any wrongdoing in the Rafale deal.
"The book order to HAL was Rs 61,000 crore up to March 31, 2018. Approximately, Rs 67,000 crore worth of order has been delivered from 2014-18. Hence, the total amount of order is Rs 1,28,000 crore," Renuka S, ex-general secretary and former chief convenor of the All India Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Trade Union Coordination Committee, said.
He said the NDA government has made no investments in the PSU and has instead "siphoned" money in terms of buyback and dividends from the PSU.
"There is a systematic conspiracy to bleed and shut down HAL by the present government. The present government has paid Rs 20,000 crore in advance for buying the Rafale to Dassault Aviation without delivery of a single aircraft. On the other hand, HAL has not been paid Rs 14,000 crore for aircraft, helicopters that have already been delivered," he said.
Asked about the purpose of meeting Gandhi, Renuka said they approached the Congress chief after their grievances were not heard by the government.
In October last year, as the controversy over the fighter jet deal was unravelling, Gandhi had interacted with HAL employees in Bengaluru.
On January 7, dismissing the Congress' allegations on the order book of HAL, Sitharaman in Lok Sabha said contracts amounting to more than Rs 26,570.80 crore have been signed between 2014-18 by the HAL and orders worth Rs 73,000 crore are in pipeline. All of them put together amount to Rs 1 lakh crore, she said.