BJP demands Antony's resignation on naval warship incident

New Delhi, Mar 7: Training its guns on the government for the latest mishap involving a naval warship, BJP on Friday demanded the resignation of Defence Minister A K Antony, holding him responsible for the incident and the neglect of the Navy.

The principal Opposition party asked the President as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to initiate a detailed investigation into this "mess" and said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh owes an explanation on the accidents.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar accused the Congress- led UPA government of indulging in scams and jeopardising the country's defence preparedness by not focusing on the equipment needs of the armed forces and stalling the procurement process.

"This is the 11th serious accident in past 11 months. This is the result of complete neglect of the Navy by the Congress- led UPA government. Defence Minister Antony must take the responsibility and resign forthwith," he said.

The BJP mourned the death of a naval officer in today's incident.

"This is the result of vested interest and commission under the patronage of Congress dominating each and every acquisition. Instead of ensuring a transparent procurement system the Defence Minister aborts the deal when the scam is in open. This reflects adversely on our defence preparedness and all the three forces suffer," he said.

The BJP mourned the death of a naval officer in today's incident.

Javadekar also recalled the statement of Finance Minister P Chidambram, who had pointed out that the Defence Ministry is not utilising funds "wisely", and said the Finance Ministry in the first place does not provide the required funds for defence forces and Navy has received a raw deal for past 10 years even as the condition of many naval vessels is precarious.

"The marines are practically floating on live bombs. The government neither purchased a single diesel submarine in its tenure nor completed the Scorpene program on time. This has forced Navy to use the outlived submarines," Javadekar said.

"There is paucity of warships and delays have plugged in the process. The systems are old and many of them are outdated. The aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is not fitted with the required defence mechanism," he said.

According to the BJP leader, the Air force is also experiencing shortage of training aircraft and thus a majority of training schedules are carried out on simulators.

He added that the Mirage upgrade is delayed and 5th generation combat aircraft acquisition is mired in controversies. The Army, he said, is also suffering because of the non- availability of assault rifles, good guns and multi-axle vehicles.

"It is not true that the Defence Ministry gets all the money it requires. It is true that the Defence Ministry does not spend the money it gets wisely. This shows the inadequacy of the UPA government," he said.

Javadekar said during the past four years, the DRDO got only 3 to 4 per cent more funds against its requirement of 12 per cent more, which "does not even account for the high inflation and due to which many defence research projects are kept pending".

"This is the price we are paying... The delays and neglect in defence decisions by UPA government and the frauds committed have resulted in the Army being deprived of what is required," he said, adding that the defence forces are sufferings the consequences.

"This is a very serious issues for the nation," Javadekar said while pointing out that the Congress-led government is not able to carry out the procurement in a transparent manner and when scams come out the deals are cancelled due to which the forces suffer.


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