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HAL employees' morale still high: CMD Madhavan

Escalating his campaign against the Modi government over the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi last month accused it of destroying the "strategic asset"state-run aerospace company HAL and told its employees that "Rafale is your right."

Amid the Rafale row, state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited CMD R Madhavan Friday said the morale of the company's employees is still high. The Supreme Court recently asked the Centre to place before it in a sealed cover within 10 days the pricing details of 36 Rafale fighter jets India is buying from France. Seeking clarity on Rafale deal, Madhavan said HAL was completely out of Rafale deal, but at one point of time, it was part of it, which did not kick-off.

"The morale of our employees is still high. As far as, our own unions are concerned, it has not given any statement on any issue surrounding Rafale deal. The statements have come from unions which have not been recognised," he told reporters here.

"We are not in that (Rafale) business now. We were in it at one point in time. It is a direct purchase by the government and (I) cannot make any comments on pricing and policy changes," he said. Escalating his campaign against the Modi government over the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi last month accused it of destroying the "strategic asset"state-run aerospace company HAL and told its employees that "Rafale is your right."

In an interaction, Gandhi sought to reach out to present and former HAL employees, alleging that "temples of modern India are being attacked and destroyed; we cannot allow it to be done." Congress, which has been accusing the government of benefiting Reliance Defence Ltd of Anil Ambani from the deal, has also been demanding answers on why the state-run aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal as finalised during the UPA regime. The party had been accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of snatching jobs of people of Karnataka by taking away the contract from HAL. However, the BJP and Reliance Defence have dismissed all the allegations as false.

Madhavan Friday said the company is in talks with Bangalore International Airport Limited to reopen old HAL airport which has been defunct since 2008. "We want the airport reopened. We have initiated talks with BIAL, but we haven't reached an agreement. We have discussed the remuneration HAL will get among other things," he said. Madhavan clarified reopening of the airport would not affect the ongoing military aircraft testing.

(With inputs from agencies.)



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