A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Indo-Russian Rifle Pvt Limited in Amethi at the ordnance factory in Korwa and referred to it as an example of neglecting the needs of the armed forces during the previous UPA regime, Congress president Rahul Gandhi came out strongly against the PM, alleging that he “lied”.
Modi was in the parliamentary constituency represented by the Congress chief on Sunday to launch the project to manufacture modernised AK-203 rifles at the factory. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, Rahul wrote, “Pradhan mantri ji. Amethi ki ordnance factory ka shilanayas 2010 mein maine khud kiya tha. Pichhle kayi saalon se vahan chhote hathiyaron ka utpadan chal raha hai. Kal aap Amethi gaye aur apni aadat se majboor hokar aapne phir jhooth bola. Kya aapko bilkul bhi sharam nahi aati (Prime Minister ji, I laid the foundation stone of the ordnance factory in Amethi in 2010 and for the past few years, small weapons have been manufactured from there. Yesterday (Sunday ), you went to Amethi and again lied out of your habit… Don’t you feel ashamed a bit)?” Some of the Congress leaders even circulared the photographs of the foundation stone laying ceremony of the factory by Rahul.
In reply to Rahul’s tweet, Union Minister Smriti Irani, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections against Rahul from Amethi, wrote, “Aapko dar itna hai ki Amethi ka vikas ho raha hai ki apne yeh dekhne ki takleef nahi udhayi ki kal Korwa mein JV ka udhkhatan hua hai… (You are so much worried over development in Amethi that you did not even bother to see that it is a Joint Venture that was lau-nched in Korwa).” She even targeted Rahul for wrongly mentioning the date of foundation stone laying function as 2010, instead of 2007.
Alleging that the ordnance factory project was again launched just to claim credit, Congress Member of Legislative Council, Deepak Singh, said that the Korwa ordnance factory, initiated in 2007, was launched in 2010 by Rahul Gandhi. “The ordinance factory in Amethi has been manufacturing weapons. No new building has been constructed, no machine or new units have been set up by the Modi government,” said Singh, adding, “However, we thank him for launching the project again.”
While launching the joint venture between Ordnance Factory Board of India and Rosoboronexport concern, Kalashnikov, of Russia, for the manufacturing of about seven lakh units of AK-203 rifles at the factory, the PM said the step should have been taken 8-9 years ago. “Amethi ki factory is baat ki gawah hai ki pehle kaise humari sena aur sukrasha balon ki awashyaktaon ko najar andaj kar diya gaya. Yeh Modi hai, ab Made in Amethi… (This factory is a sign that how in the past the needs of our armed forces were neglected… This is Modi, now Made in Amethi),” he said.
Deepak Singh said, “Any project takes time to establish and it does not happen in a day. Work was already going on and the factory had started manufacturing as well. It was supposed to be upgraded but it was not done in the present regime for the past five years. Now, it is mere show-off before the elections.”
‘Factory runs on PAGs’
In 2007, Union Defence Ministry decided to establish Ordnance Factory at Korwa in Amethi with an estimated investment of Rs Rs 408 crore and the project was to be over by October 2010. The aim was to produce “Close quarter Battle” carbines at the rate of 45,000 per annum, along with 20,000 5.56mm INSAS rifle and 5,000 each of 0.32 pistols and revolver and 0.30 sporting rifles annually, according to a PIB press release in 2010. The foundation stone for the project was laid by Rahul Gandhi in December 2007.
Since 2013, the Korwa factory started supply of Pump Action Gun (PAG) and components of tanks, shells, etc. to other ordn-ance factories, factory sources said on condition of anonymity. They said the factory was yet to receive an order from the army due to technical issues and was surviving on small orders for PAGs from other states. At present, the factory can manufacture about 10,000 PAGs per annum.