Khanduri Sacked: Is There a Link with the Ailing Armed Forces?
“Why was a former Army man sacked as Chairman of Defence Standing Committee?”, asks Sanjay Pugalia.
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta, Mohd Ibrahim
Nowadays, we are forced to listen to lectures on nationalism. A bandwagon of ‘nationalists’ hails army men day in and day out. But when a retired army man and Member of Parliament says to his own government that the army is being overlooked that they are not being provided with modern weapons and those that already have are outdated how do you treat him?
All of a sudden, this nationalist is removed from his post. A big news break came out in mid-September but it went unnoticed.
BC Khanduri was sacked as the Chairman of the Defence Standing Committee. The veteran BJP leader was replaced by Kalraj Mishra.
In the history of Parliament, this is probably the first time that a committee’s president was removed before the completion of his/her tenure. Usually, their term ends with the term of Lok Sabha.
An argument was made that Khanduri was removed because of his age. But he is 84-years-old while his replacement Kalraj Mishra is 77-years-old.
Who is BC Khanduri?
Khanduri is the former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. He was a minister in the Vajpayee Cabinet and was responsible for the ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ highway scheme. Khanduri ensured that roads were constructed across the country.
His image has been of a strong and honest leader. He may be seen as ‘unfit for politics’ in today’s political paradigm because those close to him claim that he won’t sacrifice his ideals.
What Was BC Khanduri’s Crime?
Khanduri tabled the report of (Defence) Standing Committee in March 2018. The report claimed that 68 percent of the Army’s weapons are outdated. They belong to the vintage category. Only 24 percent are contemporary and a mere 8 percent are modern.
The provision for defence in the budget is very low and only Rs 22,000 crore was allocated in this year’s budget when Rs 29,000 crore is needed to fulfil just the old ones. Committee also said that chiefs of army, navy and air force told the committee that at least 22-25 percent of the total budget should be kept aside for new requirements.
But only 14 percent was set aside.
There is nothing new in this. But Khanduri’s report had a purpose. The purpose was to wake up the bureaucrats in the Defence Ministry and ensure that the Army is capable of dealing with new challenges.
Now, look at the bigger picture. India is the fourth largest army in the world. We are the third-largest arms importer. Hence, the ‘Make in India’ project was launched.
We were told that the companies that sell weapons to us will have to invest in India, that this will help us become self-dependent and employment will also increase.
Now, we can see what went down with the Rafale deal that is facing multiple allegations. And now, you will be shocked to know that despite the relaxation of regulation in FDI for defence only 34 proposals have been received. A total investment of only Rs 90 crore has been received and this included both pending and approved projects.
From 2014-2017, the total FDI investment was a mere Rs 1.17 crore.
Be it Khanduri or the poor condition of our armed forces, the news was so trivial that it remained hidden in the noise of big news. Those who make make the most noise use the armed forces to serve their political ambitions.
Senior Generals make political statements. For instant gratification from the public, the armed forces are asked to construct a normal railway bridge in Mumbai.
If they think that just because they raise slogans the armed forces are happy with them, then let me warn those people that army personnel and their families are tensed about the current scenario.
“Our forces are fighting at the border”, those who use this dialogue are ignorant of the actual problems ailing the Army.
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