Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday denied that the Army had any sinister designs against the present UPA government.
Asked whether there were any fears of a coup in the wake of reports in a section of the media that a couple of Army units were seen marching towards Delhi in mid-January, he dismissed the whole thing as ‘absolutely baseless.' It was normal activity for the forces to be on the move and there was nothing unusual about it.
“We are absolutely confident about the patriotism of the Indian armed forces. I am proud of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and also the Coast Guard,” he told journalists after induction of the nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra into the Navy here.
Mr. Antony had one ‘humble request' to the media — “on issues affecting national security, Indian armed forces, we can't have the luxury of a controversy. India is a democracy, continues to be a democracy and the Indian armed forces will do everything to strengthen it.”
On the letter addressed to him by Army Chief General V.K. Singh, he said it was not unusual for senior officers to write letters to the Defence Minister. But, unfortunately this time, it was leaked. To another question whether he was aspiring to become the President, Mr. Antony replied: “I am not mad. I know my limits.”
The Minister said the Navy would get seven ships, including INS Chakra and the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which was to be delivered in December. Also, 15 fast attack craft (FAC) would be acquired. The Navy would get five warships every year in the coming five years and the number of FACs would go up to 80.
To a question on the process of procuring the nuclear submarine from Russia, Mr. Antony said negotiations with a country or a vendor were a long process that sometimes involved amending certain procedures.