Jaitley takes over of Defence Min, vows continuity in policy

SansadTV Bureau
New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressing a press conference at North Block in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressing a press conference at North Block in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo

A day after assuming additional charge of Defence Ministry, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley promised to continue Parrikar’s defence policy.

Jaitley took additional charge of the Defence portfolio after Manohar Parrikar resigned as Defence Minister on Sunday in order to stake claim to form government in Goa.

“Defence Ministry has a distinct responsibility regarding country’s security and armed forces, procurement for security equipment for the country. Today, I have taken a reporting of the situation,” Jaitley told reporters in Delhi.

He said he will take forward the work from where Parrikar had left.

“We have a continuous government and I will take it up from where Parrikar has left it,” he added.

On Monday, a Rashtrapati Bhawan communique had said that as advised by the Prime Minister, the President has directed that Jaitley shall be assigned the charge of the Defence Ministry in addition to his existing portfolios.

Earlier too Jaitley had held the additional charge of Defence Ministry from May 2014 to November 2014. But it is not clear for how long Jaitley will keep the two key portfolios.

Parrikar’s tenure as Defence Minister saw several arms deals being cleared and also simplification of the acquisition process. He had also pushed for a number of stalled acquisition projects.

The deals finalised during Parrikar’s tenure included purchase of 21 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers from American aviation giant Boeing and the US government.

In March last year, Parrikar had come out with a new defence procurement policy to ensure transparency in defence deals, fast-track the acquisition process and indigenisation of defence procurement.

And in September 2016, India had 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 also under Parrikar that the army had launched the surgical strike in PoK in September last year.

(With inputs from PTI)