Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said that Opposition parties should not politicise defence as national security and national preparedness are not political issues.
Jaitley, who has recently got the Defence portfolio, said in Lok Sabha on Friday that procurement procedures are on and the government is trying to make it fast. “Any critical requirement of the forces will not be compromised with, even if we have to cut expenditure somewhere else.” He assured the House that the Indian military was fully prepared to face any threat to the country.
Jaitley’s statement came after Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said the ministry had been neglected by Parrikar. Scindia said Parrikar was hardly ever in Delhi. “Want to ask the Prime Minister, where is your patriot government why could we not bring progress in Defence,” Scindia said. “The answer is not mysterious, problems can be solved only when the defence minister is in Delhi.”
The minister asserted that the armed forces were fully prepared to meet any challenge and cautioned the opposition parties against giving the impression that they were unprepared due to lack of procurement.
Making an intervention in the Lok Sabha during a debate on the demands for grants of the Defence Ministry, he rejected the opposition charge that the government had ignored the needs of defence forces and not allocated adequate budget, saying it had signed 147 procurement contracts worth over Rs 2.96 lakh crore in three years.
Jaitley cited contracts to procure weapons and equipment for all three wings of the forces– including 155 mm ultra light howitzer guns and Brahmos missiles for the army, deep sea rescue missions for the navy and Apache attack helicopters for the air force — to make his point.
Lok Sabha also witnessed verbal tussle as Congress raised the issue of the Goa Governor’s role in the government formation in the state. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar says that Governor’s actions cannot be discussed in the House.