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Oppn accuses govt of reducing allocation for defence ministry

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The opposition today accused the of reducing the allocation for the defence ministry to the lowest level since the 1962 war with and claimed that the 'achhe din' (good days) have not come for soldiers.

Leading the opposition charge in the during a debate on the Demand for Grants of the Defence Ministry, leader said security challenges from and had increased and the lack of modernisation of the defence forces is a "ticking time bomb".

He said the defence allocation had been increased to 2.5 per cent of during the but it has now been reduced to 1.5 per cent, which is the "lowest" since 1962.

The allocation for capital expenditure was only Rs 86000 crore and 90 per cent of it will go to service the existing contractual liability, Scindia said.

"Our army is not getting new weapons. The budget for them is not adequate and still all of it is not being spent. Rs 7000 crore of the capital expenditure has been returned and Rs 13000 crore was returned in the preceding year...," he said.

While had been "caged" by the government, it is now launching counter attacks on us, he said.

He added that had sided with during the BRICS Summit held in India last year.

This has neither a proper defence policy nor has it right intentions, the leader said.

Describing the 'Make-in-India' programme as "big cheating", he said not much has happened under it.

He hit out at the over terror strikes in Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota while recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attack on the previous during the polls, when he was the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

Scindia said the had signed a deal to procure 126 Rafale aircraft which would have increased the air force's squadron of fighter aircraft to 40 from 33. However, the NDA has reduced the procurement size to only 2 squardons, he added.

Claiming inadequacy of weapons and equipment for all three wings of defence forces, he said against the need of 3.5 lakh bullet proof jackets, only 50000 has been procured.

"If you do not modernize, it is a ticking time bomb," he said.

Taking a dig at former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, he said he was often away from Delhi.

He also found fault with the execution of OROP policy.

Countering the opposition charge, BJP member Meenakshi

Lekhi took a dig at the Congress, saying in the earlier governments there was "scam and ban" and then "a lot of noise" as far as defence contracts were concerned.

The present has stopped such things and it would be better not to remind the about AgustaWestland issues, she added, in an apparent reference to the scam in the purchase of VVIP helicopters.

She favoured audit of the land owned by the defence forces to ensure there is no exploitation and defence economic zones.

Tarun Gogoi (Congress) said dignity should be ensured for the defence forces and there should also be parity in pay.

About the preparedness of the forces, he said there is shortage of aircraft and the vacancies in the defence forces are staggering.

He said the should look at opening more Sainik schools and wondered why ordnance factories are vulnerable.

Taking a swipe at the over a recent incident where a jawan complained about quality of the food served, Gogoi said, "we need to be sensitive... Let us not question his mental state... What the army needs is dignity and respect."

AIADMK member K Gopal also said there was only a meager hike in defence budget and that there was shortage of equipment in the armed forces.

He wanted focus on security in the southern coast and said the killing of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan forces should be considered as an "unfriendly aggression".

Trinamool member Pratima Mondal said the cross-LoC surgical strike last September had sent out a credible and strong message but there is a threat to internal security.

N K Premchandran (RSP) said the was trying to take political advantage from the surgical strikes even though such actions had been conducted three times during the rule but never made it public.

He also said that the share of defence budget in proportion to has come down from 1.65 per cent in 2016-17 to 1.56 per cent in the current fiscal.

Expelled RJD member Rajesh Ranjan said bribery was still taking place in defence contracts because India has failed to become self-reliant in the sector.

Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav (RJD), Neelam Sonkar (BJP) and Kaushalendra Kumar (JD-U) also spoke.

First Published: Fri, March 17 2017. 15:57 IST