FM Arun Jaitley takes additional charge of Ministry of Defence
Two days after Manohar Parrikar stepped down to go back to his home state Goa to head a BJP-led government, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley toady took additional charge of the Ministry of Defence -- a dual position he had held for around six months 2014.
Jaitley, one of the senior most ministers in the Modi cabinet, was in-charge of Defence Ministry between May 26 to November 9 in 2014, before Parrikar was brought in from Goa.
Parrikar's tenure as Defence Minister saw clearance of a raft of arms deals besides simplification of the acquisition process. He had also pushed for a number of stalled acquisition projects.
Taking over as Defence Minister, March 14, 2017 pic.twitter.com/tRPfRicfwW— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) March 14, 2017
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.
Last year, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Parrikar had approved the much delayed purchase of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers worth about Rs 5,000 crore from the US and also 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, Parrikar had come out with a new defence procurement policy with an aim to ensure transparency in defence deals, fast-track acquisition process and indigenisation of defence procurement.
In September last year, 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 under Parrikar, known for taking a hard line on the issue of countering cross-border terrorism, that the army had launched the surgical strike in PoK in September last year.
On Sunday, the Goa BJP had passed a resolution requesting the central leadership to make Parrikar the Chief Minister. BJP's prospective allies had also made Parrikar's return a pre-condition for their support.
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.
Meanwhile, all preparations are underway at Raj Bhavan where CM-designate Manohar Parrikar will be administered the oath of office and secrecy by the Governor at 5pm. Besides, 8 other MLAs that includes only two from the BJP, will also take oath.