Defence Minister Jaswant Singh on Tuesday put up a spirited defence of the role of Arun Singh in his ministry, which was questioned by Communist Party of India-Marxist member Nilotpal Basu in the Rajya Sabha.
During zero hour, Basu had told Chairman Krishna Kant that the government appeared to be fighting shy of making clarifications on news reports of great sensitivity.
According to these reports, the CPI-M member said, Ministry of Defence officials were greatly perturbed as Arun Singh gave them verbal orders for various duties.
Basu wanted to know Arun Singh's locus standi in the MoD.
"Arun Singh (a minister of state for defence in Rajiv Gandhi's cabinet) is my special advisor and he has subscribed to the Official Secrets Act and requirements of intelligence agencies," the defence minister informed the House.
"Arun Singh got in touch with me during the Kargil war and volunteered to work in any capacity. It showed great public spiritedness on his part and I lauded his effort," he said.
"He heads the task force (spearheading the restructuring of the armed forces)," the minister said.
The restructuring was recommended by the K Subrahmanyam committee, set up after the Kargil war to identify shortcomings, and had the approval of a Group of Ministers, set up by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to examine the committee's recommendations.
Jaswant Singh said various experts were tackling the process, which entailed border management, internal security, intelligence and defence.
Jaswant Singh said that it was in this context that the services of Arun Singh and noted journalist George Verghese were requisitioned.
"Arun Singh is the best minister of state for defence (the country has had)," he reminded the Congress, adding "and I have not hesitated to make him my special advisor."
Referring to his dissatisfaction with the defence ministry's channels for dissipating information, Jaswant Singh said that he had sought the services of Verghese to revamp them.
Admitting to ideological differences with Verghese, Singh said these had not stopped him from seeking the senior journalist's professional expertise.
K Subrahmanyam Committee's Report
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