BY RSN SINGH
While Manmohan Singh’s personality in the psychological context of the Indians was a perfect veneer for pliability, criminal collusion and subversion of the spirit of Indian Constitution, A K Antony’s assiduously acquired ‘clean image’ came in handy for ‘powers that be’ to subvert and wreck the Indian Armed Forces from within. It may be reiterated here that Manmohan Singh in no sense was an elected Prime Minister and therefore his writ did not extend to picking up his own defence minister. The Prime Minister and the defence minister were picked up by the same authority and for same considerations, the least of all ‘integrity’. In fact, integrity and incorruptibility, financial and moral, were two biggest disqualifications in the previous regime.
If Manmohan Singh delivered to his political benefactor and mentor by way of CWG, Coal and 2G; Mr Antony did not lag behind. Never before in the history of India, the three services were targeted in the manner in which it was done during Mr Antony’s stewardship of the MoD. Never in independent India had the arms lobby become so brazen and criminal that it dared to manipulate ‘chain of succession’ of service chiefs.
The Indian Army was deliberately dragged into controversy by fabricating age related issue in respect of an Army Chief. Mr Antony vouched for the integrity of this Army Chief when he reported the Tatra scam to him. When the age issue came up in the Supreme Court, the government of which Mr Antony was a part, submitted an affidavit to the honourable bench, testifying the integrity of the concerned Army Chief. If the Army Chief was a man of integrity, then Mr Antony must answer as to why did he re-elicit the opinion of the Law Ministry, when it had categorically ruled in favour of the Army Chief. The common buzz is that it was done at the behest of someone, to whom Antony owed his office.
The next in the line was Indian Air Force. Once the VVIP Chopper scam was reported from a foreign soil, as is invariably the case, a former Air Chief was made the scapegoat for allegedly being recipient of kick-backs. The primary fault of this Air Chief was that as demanded, he had given his ‘opinion’ on the requisite operational parameters for procurement of VVIP Chopper. Even say, this Air Chief was guilty in the reckoning of Mr Antony for having allegedly received a small fraction of the kick-backs, the Defence Minister should have been worried as to who were the major recipients of public money. On this account both the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister were silent, because their puppeteer was in the grave shadow of doubt!
Now was the turn of Indian Navy. More than dozen accidents in a matter of months! It included two submarines. Many serving and retired Naval Officers asserted that the accidents were result of age related problems of the naval inventory. After every accident, the Naval Chief was put under-pressure. Finally, the powers that be succeeded. The Navy Chief resigned. The desired person was put in Office. Such was the force and osmosis of this new Naval Chief that all age related problems of the inventory have mended without intervention and there have been no accidents thereafter. Very poor script Mr Antony! You and your patron indeed think very poorly of the intelligence of Indians and integrity of people in uniform. Sadly there were some high ranking personnel in uniform to oblige the designs of your benefactors and the arms lobby. Subversion and sabotage by the arms lobby could not have acquired this new high, but for the indulgence of the dispensation.
It was during the decade of the UPA rule that the notorious ‘Chandigarh Gang’ surfaced as the mainstay of the international arms lobby. This gang is not necessarily in Chandigarh alone, but nevertheless is centered around it. It comprises some retired officers, politicians, journalists and prominent newspapers. One of these newspapers, particularly one journalist was on an overdrive during the ‘age-row’ of the then Army Chief. Another newspaper carried the ‘coup story’ and a full page advertisement on ‘Tatra’ in the same issue.
The very same ‘Chandigarh Gang’ has been at the forefront of hyping the Chinese threat and disparaging the DRDO, all at the behest of the arms lobby. The media houses that are a part of this lobby, in conformity with the imperatives of the international arms manufacturers, bombards the audiences from time time with ‘Chinese here, Chinese there and Chinese everywhere’ stories. Patriotic citizens should rather rely on the version of the Indian Army on these stories, then being misled by some of unscrupulous media houses.
Heading this ‘Chandigarh Gang’ was none other than the illustrious colleague of Mr Antony, who it is believed was desperate to see through a ‘succession plan’ in the Indian Army. It is also believed that it was he who prevailed on Mr Antony to re-obtain the opinion of the Law Ministry on the age issue of the said Army Chief.
Threat analysis should be a major concern and responsibility of a defence minister. Mr Antony allowed the MoD to be hijacked on this issue. He equally shares the blame for India’s sell out at Sharm-el-Sheikh. As a result of Indo-US nuclear deal, he is equally responsible for degrading India’s indigenous nuclear quest by slowing down the process of ‘fast breeder reactor’ and the ‘thorium route’. If there are three ends to the spectrum of warfare, i.e. sub-conventional, conventional, and nuclear, then the entire gamut should be the concern of a defence minister. If a prime minister is hysterical about only one end of this spectrum, then the motivations are not nationalistic. At the conventional level, Mr Antony did not allow one major arms acquisition even in the face of pernicious security imperatives on one pretext or the other. Indian security became a victim of the murderous internecine rivalry of the various arms lobbies.
At the sub-conventional or proxy war end of the spectrum, the defence minister allowed India’s bargaining position to be neutralized vis-à-vis Pakistan by allowing the ‘Chandigarh Gang’ to implicate Col Purohit for Malegaon and Samjhauta blasts at the behest of international lobbies. The specter of ‘Hindu terror’ was drummed up by the media of the same ‘Chandigarh Gang’. When the Army Court of Inquiry absolved this Officer, the least the defence minister should have done is to honourably reinstate him. This is bound to recoil as one of the biggest scams involving highest levels of the country.
An unpardonable act on the part of the defence minister was to acquiesce to the machinations by the arms lobby for inquiry on the Technical Support Division (TSD) to kill the political prospects of Gen VK Singh. The TSD was raised for acquiring operational and tactical intelligence in the wake of 26/11 attacks. Those who are in the know of the splendid achievements of TSD very much doubt the patriotism of the characters who questioned the functioning of the organization in order to pander anti-nationals in the Kashmir Valley and their Pakistani benefactors.
As a consequence of Mr Antony, such has been the acrimony and groupism in the higher ranks of the Indian Army that Officers take due precautions so as not to be seen in the company of any former Army Chief, who is considered to be the bête noire of the group that his current boss heads. Invitations to former Army Chiefs to seminars are given on this basis. Accordingly, Officers are also selective in responding to invitations for social events. The situation is no better in the Indian Navy.
Mr Antony you have desiccated the soul of the Indian Armed Forces.
(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)