The opposition on Friday accused the government of reducing the allocation for the defence ministry to the lowest level since the 1962 war with China and claimed that the ‘achhe din’ (good days) have not come for soldiers. Leading the opposition charge in the Lok Sabha during a debate on the Demand for Grants of the Defence Ministry, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said security challenges from China and Pakistan 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 GDP during the UPA government 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 Pakistan had been “caged” by the UPA government, it is now launching counter attacks on us, he said. He added that China had sided with Pakistan during the BRICS Summit held in India last year.
This government has neither a proper defence policy nor has it right intentions, the Congress leader said. Describing the ‘Make-in-India’ programme as “big cheating”, he said not much has happened under it.
He hit out at the government over terror strikes in Pathankot, Uri and Nagrota while recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attack on the previous UPA government during the Lok Sabha polls, when he was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Scindia said the UPA government 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 government 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.