The nexus between the middlemen, arms agents and Defence Ministry officials has been broken, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday and termed it as one of the “biggest achievement” of the NDA government.
He also asserted that he had inherited the ministry with “fear psychosis and frozen mindset” in the department where no one was ready to take any decision and changing that system was a challenge.
The minister highlighted transparency, fast decision- making process and ease of doing business among his other successes.
“Under our tenure, we have broken the nexus that the middlemen and arms agents had with officials in Defence Ministry,” Parrikar told in an interview.
He said things have come to such a change that officers are not afraid of putting negative views on a file which they avoided earlier.
“The crux of the achievement is change in mindset. The Ministry was in a fear psychosis and was stuck up in a frozen mindset. I have managed to break this barrier of fear and create atmosphere of trust, if not full but partial that is good enough for the Ministry to start moving,” he said.
Parrikar, who assumed charge of the Ministry in November 2014 from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, talked about wide- ranging issues concerning his Ministry including Rafale deal, AgustaWestland scam and acquisition programmes.
On AgustaWestland probe, he said the investigators are hot on the trail of people, including journalists, who are linked to the VVIP chopper scam and the effort is to unravel the money trail with evidence.
He said many in the Ministry knew “hera pheri (wrong doing)” was happening to ensure that the Italian firm is shortlisted for the VVIP chopper contract.
“They did not have courage to talk about the wrongdoings as key bureaucrats concerned with the deal were close to the power centre. And that close contact is proved by the fact that most of them got coveted posts after their retirement or even after the job was done,” he said, adding that six people linked to the deal got rewarding positions.
These people are favoured people, Parrikar said adding, “I am not alleging but favourite means powers thought of them as own guys who will do the job”.
Asserting that “no one can influence me”, the Defence Minister said his decisions are based on merit and what is there on file.
“To be the best of my ability, I will make a judgement on that. And my judgement, on most occasions, are judgements which are beneficial to the government. May be once or twice, erroneous judgements can be made but judgements are based on information available and to the best of my ability to interpret,” he said.