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Cong made defence purchases 'source of income': PM


ANI Politics
Inaugurating the country's first National War Memorial here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday targeted the Congress, saying it had made defence purchases a "source of income" during its rule and that probe in all cases from Bofors to AgustaWestland chopper deal pointed towards the "first family", a reference to the Gandhi family.
He alleged that the previous Congress governments had committed the "sin" of neglecting the national security and the armed forces and was now using its full force to stall the Rafale fighter procurement.
Addressing a gathering of ex-servicemen at the event, the Prime Minister said his "strong government" had taken steps towards strengthening the national security and enhancing the country's prestige and that "more such steps will be taken in that direction in the coming days".
"We have shown how impossible can be made possible. For the prestige of the country, this 'pradhan sevak' (chief servant) will take decisions in the country's interests," he said.
Listing various decisions taken by his government, like implementation of 'One rank, one pension' (OROP) and procurement of weapons and other requirements for the armed forces, he said these were aimed at strengthening armed forces and the national security.
"But for some people, a family is bigger than the nation," Modi said, in an apparent reference to the Congress and the Gandhi family.
"From schools to hospitals, from highways to airports, from stadiums to awards, we saw that only one family's name was attached. Its implication was that India's greatness and traditions were never given a priority," he said.
"They spared no effort in playing with the security of the country. Decisions related to national security were stuck for 10 years and are being taken now," the Prime Minister said, targeting the previous Congress-led UPA government.
He said that in 2009, the Army sought 1.86 lakh bullet proof vests as the soldiers were combating heavily-armed terrorists without such protection but in 5 years (till 2014), the bullet proof vests were not bought.
"Our government procured more than 2.3 lakh bullet proof vests. Was a sin committed or not? On whose face is this blot? Similar criminal lapses were made in the area of security. They used defence purchases as a source of earning. From Bofors to (AgustaWestland VVIP) helicopter deal, all investigations are pointing towards only one family, which says a lot," Modi said.
"Now, the same people are using their full force to see that Rafale fighter does not come to the country. But when, in some months, the first Rafale jet flies in the Indian skies, their efforts will fail," he said.
Although he did not name anyone, he was apparently referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi who is alleging corruption in the Rafale deal.
He asserted that it is a "new India" which is moving ahead with "new practice and new policy".
"The decisions of national interest which were on hold since long are being taken now. Recently, the government has placed an order for the purchase of 72,000 modern weapons. For some people, the family interest is bigger than the country," Modi added.
Prime Minister also paid tribute to the fallen soldiers of dastardly Pulwama attack and said, "At this historical place, I pay my tribute to the brave soldiers who lost their lives in Pulwama and all those brave hearts who sacrifice themselves for protection of India. Whether it is external threats or natural disasters, our soldiers are the first ones to tackle all threats."
Hailing the armed forces, he said the National War Memorial was built after a wait of decades and is a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives for the country.
"Files were stuck. During the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, some efforts were made but nothing concrete happened. In 2014, we initiated the process and today it is being inaugurated before the target date. This monument is also the testimony of how a vow is taken and fulfilled," he said.
Prime Minister also spoke about One Rank One Pension and said it was also a long-standing demand which was fulfilled by his government.
"There were some who thought Rs 500 crore will be enough for it," he said, referring to the previous UPA government which had earmarked the amount for the purpose.
"We have already dispersed Rs 35,000 crore as part of OROP. We have also enhanced the defence budget to over Rs 1, 12,000 crore. OROP implementation increased pension of all by about 40 per cent. Even the salary of serving soldiers has increased by approximately 55 per cent. We are also working on other facilities concerning soldiers. We are working to make an online system for pension," Modi said.
"We have also announced that if someone posted on the Line of Control or other border areas gets hurt of martyred due to enemy action or natural calamity, their families will be eligible for pension. We are also going to construct three super-speciality hospitals for the defence forces. Over 57,000 non-combatant posts have been changed to the combatant," he added.
He also outlined the increasing role of women in the armed forces and added, "Contribution from all parts of society is necessary in the security of the nation. Because of this ideology, for the 1st time, women are getting the opportunity to become fighter pilots. Decisions are being taken to strengthen the participation of daughters in the forces".

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First Published: Feb 25 2019 | 9:09 PM IST

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