Arun Jaitley is India’s new Defence Minister and will hold additional charge of defence ministry along with Finance. The decision only goes to prove the importance that the Modi government gives to the Defence portfolio, without keeping it vacant even for a day.
PM Modi has already stated that under the government’s flagship Make in India programme, the defence sector will play a big role and will be the largest contributor.
Following developments on the political front and with the former defence minister, Manohar Parrikar having to move to Goa as its CM, the name of Jaitley was announced as the new Defence minister and till the time the PM finds a new candidate.
As Parrikar takes oath as the Chief Minister of Goa on Tuesday, Jaitely will assume charge of Defence Ministry at around 1045 hrs on Tuesday.
Industry called it a good move as the finance minister is anyway in decision chain for defence acquisition programs beyond 500 Cr till last month and 2000 Cr now.
“He seems to the best choice in the current scenario, although a full time RM would be needed to push reforms in this complex Ministry,” said Mr Jayant D Patil, Head of Defence and Aerospace , Larsen and Toubro.
“Defence Manufacturing is increasingly becoming a major economic activity with Make In India and Mr Jaitley’s stewardship of the Defence Ministry ensures there’s a steady hand at the tiller,” said Dynamatic Technologies CEO Udayant Malhoutra.
A senior government official said that with the Parliament in session till April 10, the name of a full time defence minister may be announced only after that and at the cabinet reshuffle meeting under PM Narendra Modi.
There are many names doing the rounds since Parrikar resigned as the Defence Minister.
In some circles the name of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauvan, Roads and surface transport minister NITIN Gadkari too were doing the rounds but at this stage it is very difficult to make any guesses.
Earlier during the day, a statement from Rashtrapati Bhavan said President Pranab Mukherjee had accepted Mr Parrikar’s resignation with immediate effect.
“Further as advised by the Prime Minister, the President has directed that Shri Arun Jaitley, Cabinet Minister, shall be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Defence, in addition to his existing portfolios,” the statement from Mr Mukherjee’s office said.
Jaitley had earlier also held the additional charge of defence ministry along with finance from May 2014 to November 2014.
It was in November 2014 that the charge of defence ministry was given to Manohar Parrikar who was brought by the PM from Goa.
Within months of coming, Parrikar put in place a new procurement policy for Defence–the DPP 2016 and revived the stalled procurement process by bringing it back on track.
The meetings of the Defence Acquisition Council that use to take place once in six months during the UPA regime started taking place every month under the former Defence minister Parrikar.
So while Parrikar’s moving away from Defence will be missed, the industry is hoping that arrangements will be made to see that the steps taken towards realising PM’s vision of Make in India Defence continue to move ahead and there are no policy U turns’