Antony's junior seeks debate on middlemen in defence deals

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (UNI) Two days after Defence Minister A K Antony completely ruled out allowing middlemen in military deals, his junior today called for a national debate on registering the international arms or commission agents in such contracts.

Addressing a news conference here, Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh said Mr Antony's statement was a matter of fact.

''No doubt, there is no room for middlemen in the present defence procurement procedure as stated by Mr Antony, but there should be a national debate regarding registration of international arms or commission agents to make the procedure more transparent as they are already present in many grey areas,'' he said.

''What is wrong if we put them in the spotlight and make them accountable?'' he asked.

Asked if he was speaking in contrary to the Defence Minister, Mr Singh said Mr Antony was his ''boss'' and he cannot refute his statement.

He also called for excluding the defence subject from the political purview.

''Some straitjacket attitude is being adopted which imposed constraints in defence procurement,'' he said while responding to questions over some recent cancellations of ''big ticket'' defence deals.

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