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Start from ABCs, Sitharaman tells Rahul after he dares her to prove orders given to HAL or resign

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New Delhi, Jan 6: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday slammed Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for "lying" in Parliament by claiming the Modi government gave orders worth Rs one lakh crore to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and said that the minister should either place the documents in support of her statement in the House or resign.

Rahul Gandhi

"When you tell one lie, you need to keep spinning out more lies, to cover up the first one. In her eagerness to defend the PM's Rafale lie, the RM lied to Parliament. Tomorrow, RM must place before Parliament documents showing 1 Lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL. Or resign," he tweeted.

The allegations came after media reports claimed HAL, grappling with low finances, had been forced to borrow money to pay its employees' salaries. The Times of India reported that though the process of ordering has been started, no actual orders have been placed yet. HAL is yet to comment on the matter.

The Congress alleges that the government had been giving short shrift to HAL to favour Anil Ambani's rookie defence firm, which is receiving an offset contract with Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the Rafale jet fighter.

Gandhi had on Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "weakening" HAL to help his "suit-boot" friend.

Hours after Gandhi's demand, the Defence Minister asked the Congress president to read the complete newspaper report, where it has been mentioned that "Sitharaman did not claim the orders were signed, saying they were in the works".

A tweet from the minister's office later asked him to "start from ABCs".

Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted on Sunday: "The Lying Defence Minister's Lies Get Exposed! Defence Minister claimed that procurement orders worth Rs 1 Lakh Crore provided to HAL! HAL says Not a SINGLE PAISA has come, as Not a SINGLE ORDER has been signed!"

"For the first time, HAL forced to take a loan of Rs. 1000 Cr to pay salaries!" he added.

The Congress has been targeting the government, alleging that it denied the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) an offset contract under the Rafale fighter jets deal with France, a charge the government has denied.

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