Not satisfied with Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi’s resignation following a spate of accidents involving warships, BJP on Friday demanded that Defence Minister A K Antony step down taking moral responsibility for the incidents.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said that from Sindhurakshak to Sindhuratna, 10 naval accidents in 10 months showed “how bad is the state of affairs in which the Navy is functioning”.
He claimed UPA government was responsible for this “sorry state of affairs” as it has consistently neglected this vital arm of the defence forces.
“The Naval Chief has resigned. In reality the buck stops at the door of the Defence Minister. The nation is asking the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister why they are not disturbed with the loss of life and property as well as loss of face of the nation. Therefore, the Defence Minister must take moral responsibility and resign forthwith,” he said.
Mourning the loss of lives of two Navy officers in the accident, he said it is a serious issue and someone at the top must take moral responsibility for it.
Claiming that “lowest” priority is accorded to the Navy by the present government, he said no new procurement is being made and the Navy has to make do with outdated equipment.
He said the glaring neglect of Navy has been pointed out by the Standing Committee on Defence in its various reports while discussing the budget allocation and procurement equipments for the force. Javadekar is a member of the panel.
The BJP leader said many submarines are aged and in depleted condition as they were procured more than a quarter century ago.
Government had decided to replace this ageing fleet with new Scorpene submarines, but it did not happen as the programme is behind schedule.
He said the Navy is even short of sufficient funds for regular upkeep and necessary maintenance of many occasions.
“In the recent accident of ‘Sindhu Ratna’ also, the old batteries could not be replaced during refitting because of delay in contracting. This resulted in the tragic accident,” he alleged, adding that the CAG has also pointed out these deficiencies in its reports of 2008-09 and 2010-11.