As a BJP member raked up the Tatra deal controversy in the Lok Sabha on Monday,Defence Minister A K Antony tried to turn the tables on the Opposition by attributing the current deliveries of the vehicle to a contract signed during the NDA regime in 2003.
The Defence Minister,who was replying to the points made by BJPs Rakesh Singh during Question Hour,said the government had nothing to hide and could give an answer boldly. The government,he pointed out,had only continued with the norms laid according to the General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) of 1986. No new order had been placed for Tatra trucks since 2008 when the GSQR was changed following a request from the Army Headquarters.
Responding to a query by Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj vis-a-vis Army Chief Gen V K Singhs letter to the Prime Minister on ammunition shortages,Antony said the government was working towards a speedy solution. However,he made it clear that armed forces were ready to meet any challenge.
Dont try to create a doubt, Antony told Rakesh Singh,pleading with him to understand the history of Tatra. He pointed out that the Indian government started procuring vehicles from Tatra from 1973 onwards. After Czechoslovakia split into two,the government of that day decided to have a fresh contract with Tatra in 1997. After that,in year 2003,there was another contract, Antony said.
From 1986 onwards,up to 2012,we have purchased nearly 6,500 vehicles from Tatra…out of that,quoting special circumstances,in 1999,2001 and 2002,nearly 1,950 vehicles were procured…from Tatra company, he said.
Turning to NDA members,the minister said,Quoting the special need of Operation Parakram,at that time,you purchased 1,950 trucks from Tatra. It is a fact.
Admitting that the BJP member had written to him in 2008 saying the Army was going to change the GSQR,he said the government is always procuring these things as per the requirement of the Army only. After change of GSQR even till today we have not procured a single truck from Tatra, he said.
Regarding the Eurocopter deal,he said it was cancelled after some anomalies were discovered.