New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi may be batting for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as offsets partner in the 36 Rafale contract, but government data show that the firm has been ignored by foreign vendors as their industrial partner. Out of the $10 billion offsets generated in the aerospace sector, HAL has managed to get less than 5%.

In a meeting with a few HAL employees in Bengaluru a couple of days ago, the Congress president said that the public sector firm had been overlooked in the offsets contracts with French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, with preference being given to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence.

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“The total offsets credit earned by India in the past amounts to under $12 billion. Of this amount, about $10 billion (84%) has been generated by the IAF alone in the aviation sector... and of this, only a measly $427 million has gone to HAL (under 5%),” top government sources told MyNation.

The data show that HAL has lagged far behind the private sector firms in bagging offsets contracts from foreign vendors. The major players in the private sector in the military domain include the Tatas, Larsen and Toubro, SAMTEL, along with several small and medium enterprises.

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Sources said the choice of finding partners for offsets obligations has been given to the original equipment manufacturers since 2013 when AK Antony was the defence minister under the UPA regime, and they have to inform the government once they have completed the process.

In the Rafale deal, the Congress has been alleging that there has been corruption in the Rs 60,000-crore 36-plane contract but all the charges have been refuted by the BJP and the Narendra Modi government.