BJP attacks govt over defence preparedness

New Delhi: Attacking Government over defence preparedness and shortage of equipment, BJP today specifically targeted Defence Minister A K Antony in Rajya Sabha saying his "no work, no mistake and clean image" was a dangerous policy.

Initiating a discussion on the working of Defence Ministry, Balbir Punj demanded that the defence budget be increased to three per cent of the GDP from less than even 2 per cent (1.9 and 1.8 per cent) now.

The BJP member also demanded that the government should implement the one rank one pension scheme for the forces. He rued that India with its vast challenges spends less than 2 per cent, while a country like USA spends 4 per cent of its GDP on defence, Russia 3.5 per cent, Pakistan 3 per cent, France and UK 2.3 per cent and China 2.1 per cent.

Rejecting the government`s figures about rise in the budget for defence procurement, Punj said that when seen in the context of dollar value, the statistics of 17 per cent increase in the defence budget is merely "window dressing" and an exercise in "public relation". He said that even statistically the increase in this year`s defence budget is only 13 per cent if the revised budget of this year and last year is compared.

The BJP leader said it seems that Antony, who is close to top in UPA, did not give his push for increase in the defence budget and questioned "whether the budget will allocate money only to those departments, which fetch votes".

In an oblique reference to UPA ally Mamata Banerjee, Punj wondered whether the Finance Minister will give money only to the Chief Ministers of allies who arm-twist and threaten.

He said while the country`s defence budget is very less, even that allocated money is not spent fully. "The Army and the Air Force surrendered Rs 5,727 crore. This is a matter of great concern and shame," Punj said. He said the minister should not hesitate from taking a decision due to "fear" that somebody will raise a finger on him and urged him to lead from the front.