May 18, 2024

Arun Jaitley takes additional charge of Defence Ministry

TAP | Updated: March 14, 2017

New Delhi, Mar 14: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday took additional charge of the Defence Ministry. He held the dual position for around six months in 2014.
Mr. Jaitley was given the charge of the Defence Ministry on Monday after Manohar Parrikar stepped down from the position to go back to Goa as its Chief Minister.
Mr. Jaitley, one of the seniormost ministers in the Modi Cabinet, was in charge of the Defence Ministry between May 26 and November 9, 2014.
Mr. Parrikar’s tenure as Defence Minister saw the clearance of a raft of arms deals, besides simplification of the acquisition process. He had also pushed for a number of stalled acquisition projects.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique on Monday said that as advised by the Prime Minister, the President has directed that Mr. Jaitley shall be assigned the charge of the Defence Ministry in addition to his existing portfolios.
The deals finalised during Mr. Parrikar’s tenure included the purchase of 21 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers from U.S. aviation giant Boeing and the U.S. government.
Last year, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Mr. Parrikar approved the much delayed purchase of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers worth about Rs. 5,000 crore from the U.S. and also the bulk production of 18 Dhanush artillery guns, the first acquisition of such a weapon system by the Army in three decades since the Bofors scandal.
In March last year, Mr. Parrikar came out with a new defence procurement policy with the aim to ensure transparency in defence deals, fast-track acquisition process and indigenisation of defence procurement.
In September last, India inked a Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with France for purchasing 36 Rafale fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear weapons and equipped with latest missiles.
It was under Mr. Parrikar, known for taking a hard line on the issue of countering cross-border terrorism, that the Army launched the surgical strikes in PoK in September last.
Mr. Parrikar, an IIT (Bombay) alumni, had said some time ago he had still not “settled” in the national capital as he can never be a “Delhi politician”, indicating his fondness for Goa. PTI