New Delhi, March 15: Manohar Parrikar resigned as the defence minister to take over as the chief minister of Goa. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was handed over the additional charge of defence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will look to find a person who would have to hold independent charge of the defence portfolio.
The post of defence minister is an important one and India cannot afford to keep the portfolio vacant for too long. Especially in today's context, the defence ministry is extremely important and there has to be continuity to the post. There are several initiatives that need to be introduced or completed and having a person holding additional charge will not help.
When Parrikar quit, several initiatives were being undertaken. Civil-military relations, defence procurement, to name a few. Such major projects tend to slow down when a defence minister quits. Continuity would be a key factor if such important projects are to be undertaken at a brisk pace.
One of the most important projects was related to defence procurement procedure. This involved tie-ups between foreign manufacturers and the private sector to build military equipment for India. Under Parrikar, this initiative was moving at a brisk and smooth pace. Now with him quitting there is a likelihood that it may slow down.
The other key issue is the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission for the defence personnel. There has already been a considerable delay in this regard and with a change in guard, there is a possibility that this process may slow down. Top government sources say that there is no cause for panic. The process would not slow down and the prime minister will have an independent defence minister very soon.