NEW DELHI: Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh took charge on Thursday, promising to tackle bottlenecks including anonymous complaints of irregularities in military procurement, so that acquisitions are not delayed.
Soon after taking over here at the South Block office, Singh said the NDA Government would also fulfill the promise given to the 21-lakh ex-servicemen on ‘one rank - one pension’.
Targeting the previous UPA Government, he said it had only used the ‘one rank - one pension’ issues for electoral purposes and had not implemented the policy.
“Our government will definitely take steps to tackle issues, where defence deals get stuck after the firms that lost a deal send complaints against the winning bidder. These complaints delay the acquisition for the armed forces, which need equipment urgently,” Singh said.
To a query if the issue of frivolous complaints was being dealt with, the junior minister said his views on the subject were based on his past experience as Minister of State for Defence Production in the UPA-I government.
Singh suggested that action against defence companies and against contracts should be initiated only after charges are proved in a court of law and not after complaints come in.
Former Defence Minister A K Antony was known to be too sensitive to complaints, including anonymous ones, and used to suspend deals to initiate a CBI probe into them. Several deals, including the AgustaWestland VIP helicopters and 197 Light Utility Helicopters, are all in a limbo or are being delayed due to such action by him.
Another key example of delay in procurement due to complaints include the Israeli Barak missile programme, which was put on hold for nearly six years and sent to the CBI for investigation. He said the new government’s priority would be to provide modern equipment that are urgently required by the armed forces at the right time so that the fighting troops are strengthened and the morale is high.