For Arakkaparambil Kurian Antony, Union Defence Minister, often referred to as the ‘cleanest politician’, the AgustaWestland (AW) chopper scam has definitely come at a wrong time.
While he ensured that the services got all that they have asked for to meet their demands of the future—in terms of new (imported) assets— the latest scam again points fingers at the system and the men, he is leading.
In all the scams that ripped apart the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the recent times, be it the Adarsh Housing Society scam, Sukuna land scam, Ordinance Factory Board scam, frozen meat scam and the Tatra truck scam, Antony got away unscathed, with those found guilty paying a price. Surprisingly, Antony, UPA-II’s senior-most and influential minister, never came under any direct or serious attack from the Opposition and the media.
However, it is an all out war on social media sites, which follow Indian defence matters from close quarters. Probably for the first time in his stint as the defence minister, he has been fired from a close range.
Going by the mood, 24 hours after Antony ordered a CBI probe into the AW deal, most opined that he acted very late.
Uday Sinh Walla from Mumbai writes on a defence blog that Antony assiduously worked only to maintain his ‘clean’ image.
“He remains ineffectual and as much a plodder and unfocussed on the needs of the defence forces as any other defence minister we have had. His cleanliness has had no impact on the MoD and its performance in any way during his entire tenure,” he claimed.
Anil Kumar from Dhanbad felt that a CBI probe means history being repeated itself. “The case would linger for many years and we might end up spending more public money on investigation than the actual bribe paid,” he said on the same blog.
Indian Army Fans, a popular fan movement on Facebook, too has recorded some very critical remarks.
“All politicians are the same. On one hand the Indian youths are exploring all possible ways to compete with the world and on the other, politicians are downgrading our pride,” S Yadav from Hyderabad said.
However, it is not an outright Antony-bashing out there, with many crediting him for doing immensely for the welfare of armed forces.
A comment by Renjith Kumar from Abu Dhabi posted on the Indian Air Force Fans Facebook page by giving Antony the benefit of doubt.
“Can anyone suggest a politician in the UPA government who is cleaner than Antony and can handle the Defence Ministry in a better way? The bugs are within the services. Don’t blame Antony for the mess,” he said.