ALL INDIA CONGRESS COMMITTEE
24, AKBAR ROAD, NEW DELHI
Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, MP, Spokesperson, AICC addressed the media at AICC Hdqrs. today.
Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi said- Is it true that Modi Govt wants to cut 1.5 Lakh Jobs in the Indian Army? The Indian National Congress is extremely concerned about the various media reports that suggest that the Modi Govt is planning to cut 1.5 Lakh jobs in the Indian Army. Since it concerns Our National Security, with all sense of responsibility and sensitivity attached to the subject, we demand answers from the Modi Govt in this regard-
- Is it true that Modi Govt’sDefence Ministry has a proposal that it wants the Indian Army to shed 1.5 Lakh Jobs so that it can save between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 7,000 crore which could be used to bump up its capital expenditure account used to maintain and replenish the stock of weaponry that it currently holds?
- Is it not true that Modi Govt wants to reduce the manpower in the Indian Army by cutting down on its annual recruitment spread over a few years?
- If this is true, then isn’t the Modi Govt guilty of destroying more Jobs in the country? 1.5 Lakh Families will be severely affected by this decision.
- Modi Govt which is so insensitive on the pressing issue of Jobs &Unemployment is again displaying its famous arrogance & abject apathy to the crores of Middle Class Youth & Underprivileged. Instead of creating the promised 2 Cr Jobs per year, Modi Govt is hell bent in destroying more jobs. Why?
- If the Modi Govt can spend Rs 5000 Cr in the last 4.5 years on Publicity of the Prime Minister, Modi- then why can’t it spend that same amount for Weaponry and Ammunition for our Armed Forces?
- PM Modi has spent Rs 35 lakh on his Fitness Videos, Rs 60 Cr monthly on updating his pictures on Petrol Pumps, Rs 1100 Cr on a sprawling BJP HQ, Rs 2000 Cr on his Foreign Travels – Then why is the Modi Govt not providing adequate funds to the Army?
- Modi Govt has earned a windfall of Rs 11 Lakh Cr by levying Central Taxes on Petrol-Diesel, but it cannot spend Rs 5000-7000 Cr on the Indian Army?
- Modi Govt squandered Rs 41000 Cr by overpaying in the Rafale Purchase, but it cannot spend Rs 7000Cr on the Indian Army. Why?
The Indian National Congress is proud of the courage and sacrifice of our Armed Forces. Our Armed Forces are second to none and the Congress party has accorded the highest priority to them.
Our Jawans, Military & Paramilitary, sacrifice their lives daily. 410Jawans have been martyred in J&K(since 2014) & 243 martyred in Naxal attacks (since 2015).
However, the BJP & the Modi Govt has systematically compromised our National Security. Some disturbing facts:-
- In a scathing indictment of the Modi Government, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen. Sarath Chand (retired on 31 May 2018) had testified to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defenceheaded by Major General BC Khanduri, AVSM (Retd.) and had exposed a shameful state of neglect towards the requirements of our Armed Forces.
- The report said that only 8% of our equipment is state-of-the-art, 68% is vintage; that it cannot pay for emergency weapons purchase;
- That there not enough resources to undertake the construction of strategic roads on China border and ‘Make in India’ scheme in Defence has completely failed.
- That in Budget 2018-19, Defence was provided just 1.58% of GDP, lowest allocation since 1962.
- There is no money to buy weapons and equipment; media reports have reflected and called ‘Indian Army’ as ‘Broke’. (sic) Is the Modi Govt concerned about the morale of Armed Forces by meting out to them by the BJP Govt, and constant degradation and down gradation of their ranks.
Some of the most damning indictments of the report to the Parliamentary Standing Committee are:-
- A bulk [68%] of the Army’s equipment is ‘Vintage’: In a key disclosure, the Army has informed the government most of the equipment it currently holds can be categorised as vintage: “As far as we are concerned, the state today is 68 per cent of our equipment is in the vintage category, with just about 24 per cent in the current and 8 per cent in the state-of-the-art category,” [page 8, Para 1.18 of the 41stReport].
- The Report also highlighted that the Army had requested for Rs. 33,066.88 Crores and Rs. 34,209.01 Crores at the Supplementary stages for the purposes of Modernisation. However the Ministry of Finance did not make any additional allocations at either of the Supplementary stages [Page 8, Para 1.21 of the 41stReport]. The sheer apathy of this Government that works overtime to conceal it’s functioning and prides itself on being headed by a Prime Minister with a 56 inch chest stands exposed.
What makes the above worse is that the PMO was aware of the problems with regard to the need for modernization and did nothing despite his urgent intervention being sought. This is attested to by the Standing Committee’s 37th Report which reproduces the communications with the Ministry of Defence [on ‘Actions Taken’ on previous recommendations] on pages 4-5 which state that the Ministry of Defence had unsuccessfully tried to bring the issue of insufficient allocations for the modernization budget to the PMO’s attention for their urgent intervention on 02.02.2017. Despite the same “it is not known whether the PMO has made any reference to Ministry of Finance in this regard. This Ministry has not received any additional allocation subsequent to taking up the matter with PMO”. It is now clear that the PMO was briefed on the issue over a year ago and has done absolutely nothing. The Committee’s recommendation was to try and request the Prime Minister’s intervention again.
The Committee had also observed on page 4 as follows:
“What the Committee find to be even more astonishing as well as worrying to note is the negative budget growth for Modernization (Capital Acquisition) in respect of Army, Navy and Joint Staff as made in the BE [Budget Estimates] 2017-2018 vis-à-vis BE 2016-2017.” [i.e. -5.86% for the Army, -11.58% for the Navy and -28.33% for the Joint Staff]. This demonstrates the priority accorded by the Modi Government to our national defence.
- Make in India is Empty Propaganda: In his statement before the Committee, the hon’ble representative of the Armed Forces further stated that the 25 projects selected for the much-hyped ‘Make in India’ programme will not be rolled out. “There isn’t adequate budget to support this. As a result, many of these may end up foreclosed,” [Page 9, Para 1.24 of the 41stReport]. These were part of Modi’s much advertised campaign which the Modi Government promised would revolutionize defence production. The Representative of the Armed Forces further said that many strategic partnerships had been proposed adding “However, with the kind of Budget that has been allocated, this may get delayed by a few years. I am not sure what is going to be their future.” [Paras as above]
- No money to pay for emergency purchases made after the Uri attack, the surgical strikes, and the Doklam standoff: In the wake of the Uri attack, the surgical strikes and the standoff at Doklam, the Army rightfully-and with a view to safeguarding the nation’s borders-had to undertake emergency procurements [such as ammunition, anti-tank missiles, guns]. Highlighting this context, the hon’ble Representative made the following statement with regard to the existing allocations:
“Allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payments of Rs 29,033 crore for 125 on-going schemes, emergency procurements and other requirements”[Page 2, Para 1.4 of the 41st Report]
The Report goes on to further highlight the lack of clarity and policy planning in the following terms:
In addition to this, there is an additional burden of Rs. 5000 crores because of new taxation laws in GST which has come into force in the last one year and which has also not been taken care of in the new budget… The Ministry of Defence has again delegated powers to the VCOAS to spend as much as Rs. 14,097 crore towards security related issues. However, there is no separate allocation for this. So, this money also to be found from the same Budget leaving us with no choice but to re-prioritize either to reduce our requirement as far as the security of military stations are concerned or to go slow on some other acquisition[Paras as above]
The above points to a clueless PMO, a Finance Ministry completely disconnected from the reality of National Security and an army left to fend for itself.
- Lack of resources to construct Strategic roads on the China border. The hon’ble representative of the Army highlighted the budgetary shortfall with regard to money needed urgently to build roads along the Chinese Border: “We have a large number of Chinese strategic roads and also infrastructural development along the northern borders. For these infrastructure developments, the allocation is falling short by around Rs 902 crore from the required amount,” [Page 5, Para 1.15 of the 41stReport]. This again demonstrates the disconnect between the strong position presented by the Modi Government and its representatives before the public on Doklam and the actual commitment on paper.On the question of the reaction of the Congress Party that Air Force Chief has defended the Rafale Deal, Dr. Singhvi said that it is most distressing, disgusting and deplorable that the Government is putting forward our Armed forces persons like this. We respect them, be it the soldiers, be it the Chief. In the political arena, I do not want to drag them despite the worst provocation. It does not, it is not at all apposite, and it is not as per convention that you will put in the front Army, Navy or Air Force Chief to defend yourself. I do not know where your 56” ‘chhati’ has gone that you are putting these people on front. We have made a straight political allegation for the last one year. You are not able to answer it yourself and you are putting such people in front. Your Defence Minister I will deal with, your Finance Minister I will deal with, your Prime Minister I will deal with but I will not engage with the Service Chief whom we respect. Do not make our service people pawn in this game, do not invite them, and if they are invited please do not accept that invitation.Secondly, the issue is as usual derailed by the Government. The rules of the game are changed and an attempt is made to mislead you. Who has ever said that Rafale aircraft is not a good aircraft? In one year before have we said so. Is it our case? Number three – if it is 9% or 20% cheaper, at least common sense tells me that 9% or 20% is less from some figure – why don’t you tell us that figure. Is it 9% less from Rs. 1,000, is it 9% less from Rs. 10,000, or is it 9% less from Rs. 10,000 Million. It is an amazing thing. A kindergarten student knows that 20% or 9% less has to have a figure from which it is less, that they will never tell you. So, therefore, there is no answer to our question – question remains unanswered. The question is what is the price? The question is – why is there no manufacturing in India? Question is why is there no value addition under the off-set? What happened to Make in India? These things will never be answered. The question is why does an entity supposedly tethering on the brink of bankruptcy chosen as a favoured one for what is a Rs. 30,000 crore direct off-set contract with the life-cycle of 50 years involving Rs. one lakh crore on their own admission or the prospectus of that company. These questions you will be met with a silent wall or with other questions but never answers. And you will get these by putting other people in front.
On the question that a hearing was going on in Vijay Mallaya case right now, Dr. Singhvi said I am not going to comment at all on an on-going legal proceeding that too in a foreign country. What I am going to comment is that all this is shadow boxing. At the end of the day all that we are concerned – Number one – that this country is concerned, is with the result, no excuses- nothing.
Question 1 – Why was he allowed to leave?
Question No. 2 – Are you bringing him back?
Question 3 – Is the money coming back?
Barring these three things, all the rest as far as we are concerned, we cannot comment, we do not want to comment, it is irrelevant for the Nation. This is between the Governments and let the Government not find new excuses every day in new forms in new manner.