How Sangh Brotherhood Ecosystem Ran a Smear Campaign on UPA Defence Minister AK Antony
The three defence ministers in the Modi tenure have been the most clueless in the history of this country.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, not a day went by when worthies in the Sangh brotherhood ecosystem and some “independent journalists” didn’t miss a chance to tell us as to how badly the defence ministry was under the UPA and how AK Antony was the worst defence minister in the country’s history.
Fast forward to January 2019. No one is talking about the disaster zone that the defence ministry has been over the last 4.5 years — from a part-time defence minister who dozed off during meetings to one who was shopping for fish while PM Modi went shopping for fighter planes and was more interested in how to get back on a flight to Goa. The latest defence minister’s only contribution is to give sound bites to help cover up a corruption scandal in India’s largest arms purchase — Rafale.
So pervasive was the propaganda against Mr Antony that it became gospel truth. The fact is, the three defence ministers in the Modi tenure have been the most clueless in the history of this country. Retired Armed Forces officers, who claim to be most informed about matters related to defence, will tell you Antony closed nothing significant during his tenure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their impression is shaped by vitriolic posts by Sangh sympathisers on various veterans’ groups.
Here is a quick rundown on some of the deals that were initiated and completed during his tenure.
The purchase of the C-130 & C-17 transport planes for the Indian Air Force added much needed heavy lift capability. It also marked a thaw in India’s ties with the US on defence purchases front, setting aside decades of cold war mistrust. This was, of course, built on the goodwill and bonhomie in the wake of Dr Manmohan Singh’s landmark nuclear deal with the United States.
Also bought from the United States, was the Boeing P-8I “Neptune” aircraft for the Indian Navy replacing the Soviet era Tupolev Tu-142M surveillance aircraft. In fact, not only was this Boeing’s first military sale to India, but it was also Boeing’s first foreign sale of the P-8 aircraft. These were just purchases of new aircraft types. Even more Sukhoi fighter jets were added to the fleet. Another significant acquisition was the Barak-8 LR-SAM (Surface to Air Missile) which was co-designed by Israel and India. In use by the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, the missile will be used against aerial threats including aircraft, anti-ship missiles, UAVs and ballistic missiles.
Coming to the Indian Army, an additional purchase of 330 T-90 tanks from Russia was agreed upon. Also, a deal was signed for an active protection system for the tanks with Sweden. Plus additional orders. All these tanks were to be made in India in Tamil Nadu. A stark contrast to PM Modi who scrapped a predominantly make-in-India deal in favour of buying aircrafts manufactured n France.
The list is much longer — 28 ships, two nuclear submarines, a new Rs 65,000-crore Mountain Strike Corps comprising 40,000 soldiers, basic trainers, new Advanced Light Helicopters, Fleet Tankers for the Navy, a deal for a new artillery gun which was subsequently purchased by the NDA Govt.
To round up, here are some quotable quotes from March 2014.
Rear Admiral (retired) K Raja Menon called Antony the “worst defence minister ever.”
Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “But he simply lacks the connect at the policy and the strategic level”.
I wonder what these fine gentlemen have to say about the revolving door of defence ministers that India had to suffer under the Modi government. I suspect nothing.
Chirag Patnaik is a technology executive currently with the Congress Social Media Team. He tweets as @chirag and blogs at www.marlinspike.in