General V K Singh
Watch out this man
General V K Singh is the man to watch. With the current mood in the country swinging far right and the chatterati coupled with the opinion making visual media yearning for authoritarian rule, hyping the love of security forces, refusing to debate their acts of naked repression against unarmed civilians, it is the right time for a general or a retired general to make the right political moves to appeal to a section of our saffron coloured, articulate polity and V K Singh significantly fits the bill. He is also making smart moves to fill that vacuum.
It is not easy at this juncture to say that he will necessarily succeed in his endeavour. But he has gauged the mood of the ruling classes and the influential visual media in the country and is deftly working to that end. He is ambitious, he is smart and as is visible, the current saffron dispensation is appreciative of each time he supposedly puts his foot in the mouth and makes a controversial statement. It’s not proper to point an accusing finger at the entire Armed forces of the country. But let us remember that while he was the Army chief, two key army units moved towards Delhi, keeping the nodal Defence ministry completely in the dark. One was some 48 vehicles of the mechanised infantry, obviously including armoured vehicles and tanks, based in Hisar (Haryana) a component of the 33rd Armoured Division and the second, the paratroopers, part of 1 Corps, a strike formation based in Mathura. The first one halted at Palam and the other at Hindon in Ghaziabad, ready to strike anytime, presumably swoop in on Raisina Hills if need be. That was the night when the then Chief of the Indian Army had committed a historic act of gross insubordination raising the banner of defiance and moving the Supreme Court on a petty issue of his date of birth. The man didn’t want to retire on the appointed date and so attempted to fudge his date of birth and when the then UPA Government remained unimpressed he approached the Supreme Court. He realized the gravity of his act and apprehended some drastic action by the Government, which of course did not happen because of the weakness of that government. But all evidence indicates the general had made his contingency plans. Any other government, except that weak and tottering UPA and a wimp of a Defence Minister A K Antony, would not have just dismissed the General but made an example of him by court martialling him and his co-conspirators charging all of them with fomenting a rebellion against the Indian state.
Curiously instead of condemning the general or even expressing any shock at his seditious act, the media made all attempts to deny the Indian Express story , quoting the Defence ministry sources. Though none denied the substance of the movement, they gave a weak alibi. The ministry acted in time and ordered the division to return to the barracks. But the Government was too embarrassed to admit to it. As for the BJP, its top leaders had all along been supporting V K Singh in his bogus attempt to secure one more year in service by repudiating his age records, did not utter a word of criticism or condemnation of the Army’s provocative insubordination.
When that didn’t work the Army under Singh was caught spying on top UPA ministers by planting bugging devices. The UPA government was so badly demoralized that it merely prayed for the General to retire peacefully and get out of their hair. He had created a Technical Support Division (TSD) ostensibly to spy on Pakistan but it turned out that the unit was far too busy spying on Singh rivals both in the Army and in the bureaucratic and political establishment at the North and South Block. Realising the subterfuge of the TSD, his successor General Bikram Singh disbanded it. But General V K Singh planted stories through his chosen hacks how this was actually done to help out ISI in Pakistan.
Soon as he retired against his wishes though, he accused a fellow retired Army officer Lt Gen Tejinder Singh of offering him a bribe of Rs 14 crore. The man V K Singh had sulliled the reputation of the UPA government and his successor, Gen Bikram Singh, we never heard anything further on the probe regarding the purchase of Tatra trucks. Remember that cockeyed Pakistani mullah in Khaki, General Mohammad Ziaul Haq too started his ambitious political career by accusing his one-time mentor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of being a corrupt debauch.
Singh is a man of vaulting ambition and so soon after retirement, he joined the Sanghi Sarkari sadhu Ramdev in his one- day Ramlila Grounds dharna and even attended AAP meetings searching for a role for himself in a political dispensation. But he soon realized that the BJP was the happening party and that’s where he should be. In any case BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley had been vociferously backing him and ridiculing Antony for not succumbing to this Army chief’s terror tactics.
There is no record of Singh having attended a Shakha in his school days, for he went too early to the National Defence Academy (NDA) and being a senior Army officer’s son, must have spent most of his growing up years in the Army cantonments, but he is a fast learner and can sense what would make the Sangh happy and is doing all to please not the RSS alone but the wide plethora of saffron minded urban upper caste right wing majoritarians who voted Modi to see a firm leader in command but are slowly getting disillusioned with Modi for his inability to deliver.
So barely a year in office, as MoS External Affairs, Singh went to attend Pakistan Day celebrations at the Pakistan embassy at Chanakyapuri but tweeted “disgust” over breaking bread with those Pakis along with the Kashmiri separatists and pleaded his plight on the call of “Duty.” His initial tweet gladdened the hearts of his fellow travellers. Later when pinned down, he twisted the whole thing pretending he was disgusted with the media for having misquoted him.
He was again caught by the media with his fly showing when he used the analogy of throwing a stone at a dog over the burning alive of Dalit children by the upper caste in his home state Haryana, demonstrating the insensitivity towards the Dalits.
He called the media “Presstitutes” not so subtly suggesting that any media criticism of the man was coming from a section of prostitutes and he never regretted his comment. Instead, he kept on blaming the media of misrepresenting and misquoting him even when the video clips of what all he uttered went viral. Again that is like his virtual alma mater, the Sangh who hold regular workshops for like-minded journalists at chosen and often exotic venues and then attack the media for any expose on them.
His latest is his public demand for renaming Akbar Road to Maharana Pratap Road, implying that naming a road after Emperor Akbar was demeaning to this growing strident Hindu Rashtra in the making. Now isn’t such a man fit to lead this country? Should be.
Does he have the administrative capabilities. Forgive me for bringing in Ziaul Haq again, who was no great warrior. The only medal he got in his entire army career, called Sitarae Imtiaz was for butchering Palestinian freedom fighters in Jordan and Saudi Arabia where he was sent on deputation on an invite from these two countries to wipe out the PLO fighters, struggling against Israel from Jordanian borders.
The then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was taken in by Ziaul Haq’s apparent servility and made him the Army chief superceding six generals. But the man surreptitiously backed the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) agitation supposedly against Bhutto rigging the 1977 general elections and struck a deal with Bhutto’s rivals to get rid of his mentor and the first thing he did was to hang Bhutto on trumped up bogus charges. The students, the workers, the poor and the intellectual class hated him but he not just survived all that, he thrived and completely altered the face of Pakistan, its idiom its syntax. This required special qualities of chicanery and subterfuge and evidently General V K Singh possesses all this in sufficient quantity. I have all along maintained that the Sanghis loved and are still in awe of that Pak general. The way we are hurtling down, it may not be long before our Surjit Bhallas, Tavleen Singhs and Lord Meghnad Desais would be longing for someone like V K Singh or perhaps Singh himself and he is smartly positioning himself for such an eventuality.