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No senior, junior; all equal in cabinet: Antony on No 2 row

July 21, 2012 15:17 IST
Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday said all members of the Union cabinet are equal, comments that come in the midst of a stand off between the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress on issues including the Number 2 slot to Sharad Pawar.

"There is no senior and junior cabinet minister. All are equal," the defence minister said during an interaction with reporters on board the navy's latest stealth warship INS Sahyadri, which he commissioned in Mumbai on Saturday.

However, the NCP maintains that issues with the Congress are not over the status for Pawar and that there are other matters. "I have told you that it is a standard practice that in defence minister's functions, you don't say anything about politics," Antony said refusing to answer similar queries. "This is a completely apolitical function," he said.

Asked about cases of corruption in defence procurement, Antony said, "Whenever any charges come, an enquiry is conducted. After an enquiry, if anything is substantiated, anything found out, we are taking strongest action."

"We are not sparing anybody. We know it very well. We will not tolerate any kind of corruption in the armed forces," the minister said.

Replying to a query on concerns raised by former army chief Gen V K Singh on the country's defence preparedness, Antony said, "That is an old story. In the last six months, I had four rounds of discussions with all senior officers of the army. Now army procurement is going on quite smoothly."

"Now, we are according topmost priority to modernisation of armed forces," Antony said.

On reported leaks of army and air force documents, the minister said, "On getting the complaint, we referred it to the CBI and ED. They are seriously enquiring the whole thing. That is how you got the material."

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