The frenzy over the elections results due on Saturday has claimed eager participants at the Ministry of Defense as well.
Officers at the ministry have been keenly wondering about their new boss, speculating over the changes they may see at the ministry. While the incumbent AK ‘Mr. Clean’ Antony will hold office at least till Sunday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be resigning, officers at the ministry, while satisfied with his record of integrity, have been unhappy at the lack of decision-making that has become a hallmark of his tenure. With the good showing of the Congress in the vote-count, he could well be back.
“In pursuit of maintaining a clean image, he refused to take any decisions at all. Even the slightest of allegations of impropriety regarding a defense contract could well lead to a cancellation, as we have seen. This has resulted in vendors offering weak products taking advantage of the situation, spreading malicious rumors and allegations to discredit a meritorious vendor and force a cancellation,” says one long time observer at the ministry.
When StratPost asked a cross-section of officers at the ministry as to whom they considered their ideal minister, the response was unanimously, “George Fernandes, and the hell with the Tehelka nonsense,” in reference to the sting operations conducted by the then news website Tehelka that purported to prove wrong-doing in defense deals, which ended up implicating Fernandes and those close to him.
“He got things done. He fixed the complacent bureaucracy and brought home the importance of proper decision-making when it came to security issues,” said another bureaucrat.
Officers at the ministry have been speculating the past few days about possible ministers that could be the result of worst-case scenarios from their perspective.
“Imagine Mayawati as Defense Minister,” shuddered an officer, “Do we want to see cantonments converted into parks idealizing her with larger than life statues?”
“Or Mulayam Singh,” piped up another, “Do we stop using computers or writing in English?”
While Saturday’s counting of votes will show the strengths of the various parties, the ministry is concerned about the political horse-play in government formation that would result not only in delays in the assumption of political leadership, but also concerns over its integrity and decisiveness.