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Congress hits out at Centre over reports of Army downsizing

“If the government can spend Rs 5,000 crore in the last 4.5 years on publicity of the Prime Minister, why can’t it spend that same amount for weaponry and ammunition for our armed forces?” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi asked.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2018 00:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Army downsizing,Centre to cut army troops,Modi government
The Congress on Wednesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government over reports suggesting that the Army may cut 1.5 lakh jobs.(Reuters File Photo)

The Congress on Wednesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government over reports suggesting that the Army may cut 1.5 lakh jobs to save “between Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 7,000 crore” and divert that towards capital expenditure for modernising the armed forces.

Hindustan Times had reported on Monday that the Indian Army was likely to cut more than 1.5 lakh troops over the next four to five years under an overarching cadre review that seeks to sharpen the force’s effectiveness and prepare it for future wars.

Four concurrent studies are underway in the army covering wide-ranging issues including downsizing, improving the army’s tooth-to-tail ratio, revamping different verticals, cutting down the size of the army HQs, enhancing career prospects and other organisational reforms. Currently, the army’s revenue expenditure stands at 83%, leaving only a measly 17% available for modernisation.

“If it is true that the defence ministry has a proposal that it wants the Indian Army to shed 1.5 lakh jobs, then isn’t the Modi government guilty of destroying more jobs ? 1.5 lakh families will be severely affected by this decision,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.

Questioning the proposal, he said it was in the BJP’s “DNA to seek political mileage from martyrdom” of soldiers.

“If the government can spend Rs 5,000 crore in the last 4.5 years on publicity of the Prime Minister, why can’t it spend that same amount for weaponry and ammunition for our armed forces?” Singhvi asked.

The government, however, rebutted the allegation, calling it ‘unfortunate’. An official said, “No proposal for reducing the strength of the defence forces, as alleged by the Congress, is under the government’s consideration. Unlike its predecessor, this government has taken specific and decisive steps to translate into action its commitment to ensuring the country’s defence and security.”

Government has attached the highest priority to modernising armed forces, the official added.

First Published: Sep 12, 2018 23:29 IST