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New Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar set to boost defence with transparent, speedy decisions

He refrained from talking about issues concerning the Ministry of Defence on his first day in office, but Parrikar dropped enough hints that he meant business.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar files Rajya Sabha nomination papers at Vidhan Sabha Bhawan in Lucknow on Monday as BJP leaders look on. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar files Rajya Sabha nomination papers at Vidhan Sabha Bhawan in Lucknow on Monday as BJP leaders look on.

Newly appointed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar acknowledged on Monday that he was an upstart in matters related to the armed forces even as he promised to bring his speciality of transparency and fast-paced decision-making to the South Block.

"That is my speciality," said Parrikar, referring to his ability of making speedy and clean decisions.

From ruling the tiny coastal state of Goa, which is better known as a tourism hub, to managing the security of the country, Parrikar comes to the national capital with a reputation of being part of the breed of honest and decisive technocrat politicians.

He refrained from talking about issues concerning the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on his first day in office, but Parrikar dropped enough hints that he meant business.

He advocated merits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' policy and the need to develop quickly.

There is a task cut out for Parrikar as Modi appointed a full-fledged defence minister five months after assuming power. During his short stint as a temporary holder of the portfolio, Arun Jaitley gave a push to several stalled acquisition projects.

Parrikar said his predecessor Jaitley had taken decisions despite constraints and he would carry forward the task.

It will take some time for the former chief minister to settle down as he admitted that he got only five minutes to pack his bags and move to Delhi.

After his swearing-in ceremony, he had flown to Lucknow to file his nomination for entry into the Rajya Sabha as he is not a member of either house of Parliament. In Lucknow, he said the defence minister was defenceless before the press, but he would not let the country go defenceless.

The only defence matter he talked about on day one was the sinking of a torpedo recovery vessel off Vishakhapatnam. Parrikar said he would get a brief on the accident as he mentioned another naval mishap involving a fire on board a submarine last year.

Parrikar assumes charge at a time when the armed forces are in the middle of a modernisation process and are looking up to the political leadership for speedy transformation.

The border with China is calm at the moment and guns have fallen silent on the Line of Control (LoC) and the international boundary with Pakistan. But the two boundaries have the tendency to flare up at any time.

His immediate task will be to streamline the procurement process and deliver decisions on several pending big ticket purchases. His predecessor Jaitley had vowed to ensure that the Defence Acquisition Council meets every month.

Parrikar is also bracing up for the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

In the coming days, he will get extensive briefings on the functioning of the ministry. He began by meeting the three service chiefs who called on him together. Defence Secretary RK Mathur also called on the minister.

The NDA government has opened up the defence sector to foreign investors, but experts say the policy needs to be made more attractive to get maximum benefits.

PARRIKAR TO GO TO RS FROM UP

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was in Lucknow on Monday, said that his focus would be on strategically strengthening India.

"India's relationship with its neighbours is an extremely sensitive issue and I would to able to talk about it only after a discussion with PM Narendra Modi," the former chief minister of Goa told mediapersons.

Parrikar was in Lucknow on Monday to file his nomination papers for Rajya Sabha elections. "I am feeling proud that I am going to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, the land which produces most popular politicians. I am also lucky that my party has given me the opportunity to get connected with this state. I promise to use my skills and abilities for the growth of the state," he said.

Meanwhile, party sources told Mail Today that all BJP MLAs were asked to be present at the party office on the occasion. "By sending Parrikar to Rajya Sabha from UP, Modi and Amit Shah are trying to send a message to the state BJP unit that leaders from outside (Centre) can be superimposed on them," a senior BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.

Piyush Srivastava/Lucknow
(In association with Mail Today)