Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone of a manufacturing unit for AK-203 assault rifles at the Ordnance Factory Board factory in Amethi, the parliamentary constituency of Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
Launching a stinging attack on Congress for the delay in procuring defence weapons, Modi said that "they [Congress] could not even decide on the arms to be manufactured."
According to reports, India will manufacture 750,000 of these assault rifles. The ordnance factory in Amethi was established in 2010.
"One of the most advanced rifles in world, AK-203 will be made in Amethi. It will be made by a joint-venture of India and Russia. I express my gratitude to my friend President Vladimir Putin, this venture was made possible in such a short time by his support," Modi said while addressing a gathering.
In his first visit to the Congress stronghold after becoming the Prime Minister of the country, Modi announced a slew projects while also lauding Smriti Irani for her work in the constituency.
"Those who voted for us and those who didn’t, they are all our people. Smriti Irani was your candidate. Though we could not win, but we won your hearts," he said.
Modi, who landed in the city after addressing a rally in Bihar's Patna, said Amethi, which has traditionally been loyal to the Gandhi family, was the best example of his government's 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' (together with all, development for all) motto.
Projects unvieled during his visit include a steel processing unit worth INR 9,200 crore and an upgradation of Amethi's bus stations and depot workshops worth INR 496.80 crore.
AK-203 is the latest derivative of the legendary AK-47 rifle. According to officials, the guns would replace the existing India-made INSAS assault rifles in the Army, Air Force, and Navy.
After the rifles are supplied to the defence forces, the government, in the next phase, would provide them to paramilitary and the state police forces. There is a possibility that 15 to 20 years down the line, all the forces would be using this assault rifle as their standard weapon.
After a string of complaints on INSAS rifles were received from ground troops deployed across the country on all frontiers, India about 10 years ago had started looking for new rifles for its infantry troops but the efforts could not materialise due to retraction of tenders issued for the purpose over different issues.
This is Modi's first visit to Amethi after coming to power in 2014. He visited the neighbouring Rae Bareli constituency, represented in Lok Sabha by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in December.
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