Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday hailed appointment of Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as the country's first, full-fledged Defence Minister, saying it sends "a message globally".
"It is great for the country, not just for the women. it also sends a message globally," said Jaitley, who had held charge of Defence after Manohar Parrikar left the post to become Goa Chief Minister earlier this year.
Noting that the Cabinet Committee on Security would now have two women ministers, with Sitharaman joining External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, he said, "Both ladies in CCS have established their competence, both are recognised as ladies with substance, who have earned a front-line position for themselves."
Prime Minister has set the bar very high. It's clear that he is very closely monitoring performance of each ministry &individual: A Jaitley— ANI (@ANI) September 3, 2017
Asked if women in combat maybe a reality with a woman as Defence Minister, Jaitley quipped: "That was one area in which I wasn't able to do much."
Jaitley further said that he enjoyed his stint in the Defence Ministry, but added that it was not possible to continue handling both Defence and Finance portfolios.
"I enjoyed every minute as Defence Minister, I loved the job and had two opportunities to serve. I think systems in that ministry are excellent and I have a satisfaction that in a brief period, we did a lot, from Strategic Partnership, to implementing Pay Commission recommendations, resolving the anomalies in the Pay Commission recommendations...."
"My last decisions with regard to streamlining ordnance factories having 57,000 personnel to be redeployed from non-essential areas are important directional changes. It is a great job, but Finance Ministry is an important job and it is not possible indefinitely to take charge of these two ministries... The Prime Minister was aware of these constraints," Jaitley said.
He also said that he is happy that his successor as Defence Minister is very "competent".
"I am happy with the fact that I now have a very competent successor who has worked her way up and proved herself. She has actually earned that place for herself," he said referring to Sitharaman, who has in past worked with him as Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs.
Jaitley noted that the Cabinet Committee on Security would now have two women with Sitharaman joining External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
"Both ladies in CCS have established their competence, both are recognised as ladies with substance, who have earned a front-line position for themselves," he said.
Meanwhile, Jaitley will represent India in a bilateral dialogue on defence in Japan. Sitharaman will take charge of her office after Jaitley returns from Japan.