Thiruvananthapuram, March 29: Defence minister A.K. Antony today hit back at Narendra Modi, saying the BJP mascot’s comments likening him to a “Pakistani agent” was inappropriate and could demoralise the armed forces.
“A leader who is going day and night all over the country to be Prime Minister, do you think it is appropriate… this statement about AK-47, what do you think?” Antony told reporters at the Press Club here, days after Modi’s sniper shots at a public meeting near Jammu.
Modi had on Wednesday targeted three “AKs” — the assault rifle, the favoured weapon of militants that he said was “bleeding India”; Antony and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, clubbing them together as “Pakistani agents”.
He had also criticised Antony’s statement in Parliament on the beheading of some Indian jawans.
In Kerala today, Antony chose to focus on the reference to the gun. Such “utterances about our weapons can demoralise the armed forces and I’m sad… that it indirectly helps the enemy”, the Congress leader said. “No true patriot will make such a statement.”
Antony also defended his role as defence minister, saying he had acted tough on corruption while ensuring that modernisation of the armed forces did not suffer. “All cases, whenever allegations came to our notice, our track record is that we took action. Not mild actions, strong actions, strongest actions. No other government has taken such serious strong action. We blacklisted six of the world’s very powerful companies (and) cancelled many contracts.”
Among the contracts Delhi had scrapped was one for VIP helicopters after investigations pointed to the use of middlemen in swinging the deal.
Antony said he had even come under attack because of the cancellations for “slackening” modernisation. “So if I cancel a contract, there is allegation, if I take one month… to take action, there is complaint,” he said before going on to assert that modernisation was “on track”.
“Last five years, not a single rupee on modernisation was surrendered. People are forgetting how many projects we already entered into,” he said, adding that in the last 10 years, the government had provided to the armed forces the “maximum number of platforms, equipment and ammunition”.
On the repeated accidents in different wings of the armed forces, Antony said: “I can assure you (the) Indian armed forces are well prepared… and always willing to meet any challenge.’’