Arms lobby targeting Antony for fighting graft?

Speculation is doing the rounds that a series of controversies which hit the Army and the Defence Ministry are being milked to target AK Antony.

Updated: Apr 07, 2012, 13:08 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Speculation is doing the rounds that a series of controversies which hit the Army and the Defence Ministry recently are being milked to target Defence Minister AK Antony.

While the controversies – ranging from spying row, bribery allegations, defence forces’ under-preparedness to unauthorised troop movement – may have been a result of factional feud in the Army, observers are saying that many are using the tense past few weeks to target Antony. He is being accused of "inaction" and lack of ability to deal with sensitive matters.

Both Army Chief General VK Singh and Antony are known for their honesty and integrity. And their efforts to weed out corruption from the armed forces have unnerved all – from arms lobbies and middlemen to foreign governments and armament firms.

While there is no need to target the Army Chief now as he is due to retire in less than two months on May 31, Antony figures very high on the hit-list of such groups.

Under Antony, the Defence Ministry has banned several armament firms, four of them foreign companies. These include Israeli Military Industries, Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Rheinmetall Air Defence (Zurich) and Corporation Defence (Russia).

Sources say Antony was warned of a possible backlash but he decided to go ahead with blacklisting the firms in his attempt to clean up the procurement process.

"We are determined to modernize our armed forces fast but there will be zero tolerance on corruption," the minister said recently.