India has an ancient history. But in terms of democracy and freedom, we have had 75 years. Partitioned in 1947, India has come a long way. In 2014, India made a decisive and collective decision. To throw the corrupt leaders out and reduce them to ashes, and bring in a new wave of governance in the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, in the past 75 years, India has faced many disasters. And most of them have originated due to our leaders being disasters in their rights. In this report, we talk about the worst defence ministers which India has ever had.
VK Krishna Menon
VK Krishna Menon was the defence minister of India from 1957 to 1962. Krishna Menon was bent towards the left ideology. Time magazine described him as a “crotchety, Mephistophelean” figure. U.S. President Dwight D Eisenhower characterized him as a “menace… governed by an ambition to prove himself the master international manipulator and politician of the age.”As a close-confidante of Nehru, Menon shaped India’s foreign policy in the early years of Indian independence. He was termed ‘Nehru’s Evil Genius’ and India’s Rasputin.
VK Krishna Menon is the cause of all that plagues India’s defence sector today. First of all, he prevented India from bloc-politics, which is to say that he did not allow India’s foreign policy to favour either the U.S.-led bloc or the Soviet Union-led USSR. During his UK days, Krishna Menon was involved in the “Jeep Scandal”, which was the first attempt by an Indian politician (then a bureaucrat) to weaken the Indian Defense Forces for personal gains or to serve his ideological master in the east. The Jeep scandal happened when Pakistan attacked Kashmir in 1947 just after independence. Menon embarrassed Nehru by delivering substandard jeeps for the Indian army.
It was in 1948 that Krishna Menon signed a deal worth Rs. 80 lakh for the purchase of 200 army jeeps, but the company delivered only 155 of them. But Jawaharlal Nehru accepted the deal nonetheless and closed the case in 1955 to shield his friend. Who can forget the 1962 war debacle with China? Such was the humiliation caused to India by the Nehru-Menon duo that the besmirched defence minister was forced to resign, despite the best of attempts by Nehru to save him.
Rajiv Gandhi was many things. He was Indira Gandhi’s son, Sonia Gandhi’s husband and the father of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra. He was a pilot and an alleged genocide enabler. He was also the country’s prime minister. Above all, however, he was a scamster who also served as India’s defence minister.
According to Justice J C Shah Commission, which probed the excesses during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi grossly interfered in the procedure to procure three Boeing 737 aircraft, amounting to a total cost of Rs 30.55 crore. Apart from the undue influence in the procurement process, witnesses suggest the deal was finalised under immense political pressure. As if one such incident of grave undue influence wasn’t enough, Rajiv Gandhi once again interfered in the procurement of the next set of aircraft.
The investigation into the crashing of Indian Airlines A320 Airbus in 1990 gave insights into Rajiv Gandhi government’s undue haste in pushing the A320 Airbus deal after brushing aside the need for more time to evaluate the aircraft.
Read more: How Nehru-Gandhi family influenced defence deals in favour of lobbyists
Who can forget the Bofors Scam – which had Rajiv Gandhi written all over it? Back in 1975, our army had made it known to the Government of India that they badly needed a medium artillery gun. There were four arms manufacturers in play and the army had initially favoured the French SOFMA since it was the only gun that met a critical aspect of the General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR), of having a range of 29 KMs.
Then, sometime during February 1986, the Swedish Bofors emerged as the top contender for the billion-dollar contract. The French gun met 84% of the defence procurement parameters while Bofors met only about 64%. So, why did India go for Bofors instead of the French SOFMA? Well, that is the entire scam.
On April 16, 1987, Swedish radio broke the news that Bofors had paid bribes to Indian politicians to land the deal.
Sharad Pawar has never had India’s best interests at heart. From calling Pakistan a hospitable country to saying that the Balakot strike was conducted inside Jammu and Kashmir, Sharad Pawar has done it all. During the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Sharad Pawar tried to spin the narrative that 13 sites in the city had been bombed, and not 12. He included a Mosque in the bombing to prove how Pakistan was not involved in the terror attack.
Sharad Pawar has always been accused of shielding D-company, and of helping Dawood Ibrahim escape India. Due to his links with criminals and gangsters, Sharad Pawar never deserved to become the defence minister. Yet, there he was from 1991 to 1993, occupying among the most important cabinet portfolios of India and compromising on our national security. Sharad Pawar was among all the others who contributed to India not becoming a global military superpower under their watch.
A man who needed to be carried around in the arms of his bodyguard was made the defence minister of India. By far the most uncharismatic, lethargic and corrupt defence minister, AK Antony did more harm to India than perhaps any other defence minister. He was a loyal stooge of Sonia Gandhi and took commands from her alone. A K Antony had also been the longest-serving defence minister of India. A K Antony oversaw the stalling of countless deals like S-70B, MMRCA, AH-64E, CH-47F, M777 artillery, Avro replacement etc. He in a way jeopardized national security. The criminal negligence of sorts.
A K Antony was a seasoned politician and he played the honesty card very well. His tenure saw incursions, attacks, ceasefire violations, scams, shaming and exit of military chiefs, deaths of officers and imaginary Coups but he was never held accountable.
Krishna Chandra Pant
Krishna Chandra Pant held the defence minister post from 1987 to 1989. There is fundamentally no difference between his stint as defence minister and Yashwant Rao Balwant Rao Chauhan’s job as home minister. Pant is considered an expert in political opportunism. During Rajiv Gandhi’s work as PM of the country, he handled the Defence ministry, while during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure he became the vice-chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission.
Though Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundational backbone of strengthened Khalistanism and fanatic Islamic terrorism in India, it was Pant whose poor stint as defence minister allowed these mercenaries to blossom. Operation Meghdoot and Operation Black Thunder, are the only notable work he did during his tenure.