Launches production unit of AK-203 assault rifles in Amethi
Lucknow, March 3: Taking a veiled dig at the previous Congress-led government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said it had “overlooked” the requirements of the security forces and made “brave” soldiers wait endlessly for modern rifles, bullet-proof jackets, artillery and aircraft.
Speaking at the launch of the production of AK-203 assault rifles in Amethi, Modi said the new Kalashnikovs would give an edge to “our soldiers during encounters with terrorists and naxals”. Amethi is the political turf of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The PM said Amethi would now be known as the producer of the advanced Kalashnikov rifles.
Accompanied by Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani, who lost to Rahul Gandhi in the 2014 election in Amethi, Modi launched the production unit at the Korwa Ordnance Factory at Kauhar, Amethi. The Indo-Russia Rifles Private Ltd. project is a joint venture between India’s Ordnance Factory Board and Russia.
Addressing the event at Gauriganj, Modi blamed the previous Congress governments for delay of eight or nine years in starting the production of the modern rifles at Korwa, listing it as an example of how the needs of jawans were ignored earlier.
The PM said that while the factory was inaugurated in Amethi by its MP (Mr. Gandhi) in 2007, two years after the Army asked the then UPA government for modern weapons, even by 2010 they could not decide what weapon would be manufactured at the unit.
By not providing modern weapons to jawans, not using the full potential of the ordnance factory, misusing resources and failing to provide jobs to local youths who would have got employed due to the venture, was it not ‘injustice’, Modi asked. He also accused the Congress of ‘big lies’, as the previous government had promised 1,500 jobs in Amethi alone but employing only 200 youth.
“And they go around the country giving speeches on employment,” Modi said, in a speech dominated by the issue of armed forces and national security.
Modi said that while due to his government’s efforts the first Rafale jet would be in Indian skies in the next few months, there were people who for their “selfish interests” were trying to “fail” it with new nakhras.
“From the Supreme Court to CAG, every institution is saying that the Indian government has taken the right decision, at the right time, with the right deal and in national interest. But these people are delivering lies after lies,” said the PM, not naming anybody.
Modi said the previous governments sat on the Rafale jets deal for years and dumped it in the cold storage when their government was on the way out. Furthering targetting the previous Congress government for leaving the jawans “craving for” modernized equipment, Mr. Modi said that only after he came to power that an order for 2.30 lakh bullet-proof vests was placed, while the UPA government from 2009 to 2014 did not act on the Army’s requirement of 1.86 lakh vests for five years.
Without taking any names, Mr. Modi also mocked Mr. Gandhi for his references to local manufacturing and for ridiculing the Made in India scheme, saying that while some people roamed around the country and every village delivering speeches on Made in Ujjain, Made in Jaipur, Made in Jaisalmer and Made in Baroda, he had delivered with the “Made in Amethi AK-230 rifle.”
Sitharaman said in three years 100% transfer of technology would take place. Mr. Modi thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for making possible the venture in a short time. In a message, Mr. Putin said that it was during his visit to India last October that Mr. Modi and he reached an agreement on setting up the unit, and that it was “prepared and signed in the shortest possible time.”
Putin said: “I am convinced that commissioning of the new enterprise will contribute to stronger defence potential of India, to further advance of the scientific and industrial basis of the national economy, will be instrumental in terms of creating new jobs for qualified work force, and will provide an impetus to professional education and personnel training.”
The Army has been looking to replace the indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) rifles in use with a modern rifle. (Courtesy: The Hindu)