The charges against retired Army chief Gen. VK Singh made soon after he was seen in the company of BJP leader Narendra Modi who was addressing a meeting of retired army men raises some important questions.
The alleged ‘misdemeanours’ – such as they are – indulged in supposedly by Gen. Singh could not have been noticed overnight to be brought to the attention of the general public, at an unusual time. It would seem that the information has been lying in waiting since March 2013 or six months earlier. Why were not the cases against him made public then? Was it because that they were too trivial and largely made-up to be played around? One sees here signs of official vendetta. Closeness to Narendra Modi for a retired Army Chief is obviously not acceptable to the powers that be, especially with general elections not too far away.
The UPA-II government surely would not like Gen Singh and Narendra Modi to sing the same political song? Granting that some serious issues have been raised in the past by Gen Singh, the right approach for the government would have been to make a proper case against the top army officer and brief the entire media. That would have shown that the government was serious and willing to take a determined stand. That the charges were ‘leaked’ to one paper makes it appear that the entire thing is a hoax.
Any government officer who ‘leaks’ important stories to one newspaper and one alone should be taken serious note of. Such favouritism should not be acceptable. But of that, later. The government ‘trick’ obviously was to leak the story, then, when the ex-Army Chief has been publicly run down, to express ‘shock’ that anyone of that rank could seem so unprincipled and promise stern action against him. Credit is given to the reporter for ‘revealing’ some damnable ‘facts’ though the truth is that the poor mediaman had been ‘used’ for the specific purpose first of damning the Army Chief’s credibility.
Now let us consider some other facts. The Army Chief has been charged with setting up a ‘Secret intelligence unit’ and ‘empowered’ it with secret funds. Question: Has a Commander-in-Chief no right to do so? Or why is he a Commander-in-Chief, pray? Look at the word ‘secret’. It is a cheap word suggesting some wrong done. It has been used deliberately to show that the Army Chief had done something wrong. Security people maintain ‘secret’ organisations or units and naturally use ‘secret’ funds to discharge some “secret” tasks. That is par for the course. Ask the US Army.
Again a charge is made that the C-in-C was using secret funds to overthrow, of all things, the Omar Abdullah Government in Jammu & Kashmir. Can anybody believe that? No official ever gets into ‘politics’ except when specifically asked to do by the Civil Government.
And what would Gen. VK Singh have gained by overthrowing the Omar Abdullah Government? This is India, not Pakistan. What should be clear is that the setting up of a secret unit and the financing of it couldn’t possibly have remained unnoticed within the Armed Forces. Word would have quickly spread that something was apace. Are we to believe that the Defence Ministry has no informers of its own within the Defence Forces to keen an eye on what’s going on, on a day-to-day basis? Who is fooling whom? Doesn’t the Armed Forces have an Accountant General to keep every rupee spent under control? If evidence had been gathered about Gen. Singh’s politics, (a) he should have been warned, in the first instance while he was still on his job and (b) should have been asked to step down without any fuss or dismissed if the evidence found was too much to be ignored. None of this happened.
If the C-in-C is found guilty and the Court so decides that is another matter. But no self-respecting correspondent should be party to accepting stories of an apparently questionable character.
The Government used only just one newspaper to serve its interest because the government was afraid the media might raise too many difficult questions it was not ready to meet?