State-run Hindustan Aeronautic Limited’s Chairperson and Managing Director R Madhavan on Wednesday said the aircraft manufacturing company is not contending be an offset partner of any original equipment manufacturer, PTI reported.

“We are not contending to be an offset partner to any OEM [original equipment manufacturer], rather HAL would like to be a total technology transfer partner for production of aircraft,” Madhavan told PTI when asked about HAL being deprived an offset contract in the Rafale deal.

He also said HAL’s focus was on manufacturing aircraft, helicopters, aircraft accessories, repair and overhaul, and not on the offset business. Production of aircraft from transfer of technology is different from offsets, he added.

Madhavan clarified that the company does handle some portion of the offset business from various other programmes, but it does not form a major part of its business. “HAL will continue to get these offset business,” he said.

The Congress party has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government of getting an overpriced deal and helping a private defence firm owned by Anil Ambani, which has no experience in the sector, land a mega contract under the Rafale deal. It has alleged that the government is helping the Anil Ambani group get a contract worth Rs 30,000 crore from the deal, PTI reported.

The government signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore. Soon after, Anil Ambani’s Reliance entered the deal as an offset partner for the jet’s manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

When asked about HAL’s position on the controversy around the Rafale deal, Madhavan told The Economic Times: “Our message is clear – please do not bring HAL into it.” Madhavan said HAL’s job is to maximise output for the stakeholders. “We have told our people not to get involved with any political party on the issue because the whole thing has a negative impact on HAL,” he added. Our own unions have made statements that they are not party to any of it – neither on one side nor the other. These statements have been made even without us telling them to do so.”

On November 2, Madhavan had said that HAL was completely out of the Rafale deal, even though the company had been involved in it at one point of time. “We are not in that [Rafale] business now,” he had said. “We were in it at one point of time. It is a direct purchase by the government and [I] cannot make any comments on pricing and policy changes.”