NEW DELHI: Of late, the defence sector, particularly the Rafale deal clinched during the Prime Minister’s recent Paris visit, has been the focus of Congress attack on the Centre, calling it a clear subversion of the NDA’s ‘Make in India’ hype.
Even the otherwise reticent A K Antony, the former defence minister , has come out in open against the government for neglecting the defence sector.
While claiming he suffered from no indecision during his tenure on issues related to defence spending, the Congress leader even sought to establish that procurement had increased manifold under his watch.
Quite unlike him, Antony tantalisingly let it be known “This could just be the tip of the iceberg” and that he will “expose” the government more in the days to come.
A week later, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi followed by another of the party’s spokespersons R P N Singh also gave similar indications.
But the real trigger for this sudden escalation of attack came from Major Gen B C Khanduri, Chairman of the Defence Standing Committee . The former Uttarakhand CM, now a Lok Sabha member from Garhwal, has called a meeting of the Standing Committee on June 17 with a specific agenda: ‘Seven years Defence policy, Rafael deal’, in other words putting Antony’s tenure as Defence Minister on the scanner, upsetting the Congress.
Needless to say the Congress MPs on the panel -- Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni and Madhusudan Mistry from the Rajya Sabha, Capt Amrinder Singh and Rajeev Satav from the Lok Sabha -- are preparing to tear into the Rafael deal inked during the PM’s France visit, “without the Union Cabinet’s approval”.
In case Khanduri stonewalls their efforts, the Congress members are determined to write to the LS Speaker charging him of raking up “divisive matters” instead of focusing on the working of the ministry.
The Congress claims that the reason the Rafale deal was delayed during the UPA tenure was because India had been negotiating hard for Transfer of Technology (TOT).
A senior BJP leader, however, countered the Congress claim saying the Rafale deal was made keeping in mind the dire need of the IAF. “Antony’s indecisions have hampered our defence arsenal. And this is not the end of talks .Who said there will no technology transfer?”