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President, Army and Governance!
|by Rajinder Puri|
According to media reports the Defence Ministry constituted a secret Board of Officers body headed by Lt General Vinod Bhatia to probe alleged irregularities committed during the tenure of former Army Chief General VK Singh. It is alleged that General Singh set up a controversial Military Intelligence unit, Technical Services Division (TSD) that misused secret funds to conduct unauthorized covert operations that interfered in domestic politics. According to reports General Bhatia has advised a fuller probe by an external agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The report alleges that TDS misused secret funds in an effort to destabilize the Jammu and Kashmir government, as well as block the promotion of the present Army Chief General Bikram Singh. The media report has furnished details about how these irregularities were sought to be accomplished.
The following questions need to be addressed.
First, now that the report has been quoted in the media it has to be established whether the allegations leveled by General Bhatia’s team of officers are valid. If true it reveals a shocking state of affairs in which a serving Army Chief can so misuse his powers to further political ends unconnected to his call of duty. If untrue, it reveals an equally shocking state of affairs in which politics has infected the armed forces to allow such false and motivated allegations to be made in order to settle differences within the Defence Ministry.
Secondly, the report was submitted in March. Why has it surfaced only now almost six months later after the Defence Minister reportedly has got into the act? Does this validate General Singh’s reported comment that he is being targeted only because he shared a public platform with Mr. Narendra Modi?
Thirdly, if it be assumed that the report has substance surely there are various discreet methods of addressing the issue, of even indirectly punishing the guilty, and keep the controversy away from public attention? Transparency in governance is an excellent principle and the media cannot be criticized for playing up the report when offered the chance. But does it behoove a government to throw all considerations of national security to the winds and jeopardize it by publicizing such an episode if indeed it occurred as alleged? What kind of government is ruling India, and what kind of priorities does it have?
Finally, one cannot but reflect once again whether there can ever be accountability in our collapsing democracy unless the President discharges the responsibilities assigned to his post by our Constitution.
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