NEW DELHI: After the Rafale deal, the Congress has questioned the government’s plans to cut down the Army’s strength by 1.5 lakh, saying the move will affect the country’s security. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi cited recent reports to ask the government if it wanted the Army to shed 1.5 lakh jobs to save Rs 5,000-7,000 crore.
Noting that the same number of families would be severely affected by the move, Singhvi targeted the Centre, saying that if it could spend 5,000 crore since 2014 on the Prime Minister’s publicity, why was it not in a position to spend the same amount for weaponry and ammunition for the armed forces.
Noting that the Centre had earned 11 lakh crore through oil taxes since 2014, and allegedly squandered 41,000 crore on the Rafale jet deal, the Congress leader wondered if earmarking 5,000-7,000 crore for the Army was so difficult. Singhvi cited a parliamentary report to allege that only 8 per cent of the Army’s equipment was state-of-the-art, while 68 per cent of it was of vintage quality and the force was not able to pay for emergency weapons purchases.
“In the budget for 2018-19, the defence sector was provided just 1.58 per cent of GDP, the lowest allocation since 1962,” said Singhvi, adding that the PMO was aware of the problems but had done nothing. Citing the same report, the Congress spokesperson said that the 25 projects selected for the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ programme will not be rolled out.