Defence Minister AK Antony’s Press Conference

The Defence Minister AK Antony held a press conference in New Delhi on 29.03.2012 on the occasion of Defexpo. Naturally question were asked about the ongoing controversy relating to the leakage of a Secret letter from the Army Chief to the Prime Minister. The Minister was asked two questions: whether the Army Chief enjoyed the confidence of the government, and whether the Army Chief had taken him into confidence about a complaint against a serving Lt General sent by the TMC Member of Parliament, before sending it to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The minister emerged as a dignified, confident, transparent and straight forward person. He made a categorical statement that all the three Chiefs enjoyed full confidence of the government. But this categorical statement of the minister has been turned, twisted and trashed by the media in its useless running commentary throughout the day. The media, especially the TV channels have been either freezed by the patrons of the arms lobbies or bought by the arms dealers. These channels have been displaying total lack of responsibility and have allowed the lobbyists all the freedom to indulge in contemptible outbursts, which are infradig to the individual officer, but dangerous for the defence of the country. They would have been arrested and brought to book had they taken such liberties with the nation in some other country.Here they have the cheek to allege “ulterior” motives to the Army Chief. This is their idiom to attack all honest government servants, for which they misuse the democratic environment of administration in the country. They misuse the freedom of making complaints to the President, Prime Minister, Minister, Secretary, Cabinet Secretary, Chief Vigilance Commissioner(CVC) and several other authorities. It costs them nothing more than 50 paise or half a rupee to photocopy one letter and send it by post. Then, and this one is deadly dangerous, they keep the official letter heads of the members of parliament, use them to send complaints to the authorities, even by forging the signatures of the MP. The fact gets revealed when inquiries are made from the concerned MP about the veracity of the complaint and he denies having ever written any letter. This takes a few months, but the damage is done in the interregnum. The reason is that all letters from the MPs are treated as special correspondence and pursued in right ernest. The officer concerned is shaken by such baseless complaints as he has to offer written explanations. The complainant escapes without harm. The game played by the arms lobbies in leaking the Army Chief’s letter and the media giving it undue publicity, are proof of the power of the corrupt in India. The audacity of the arms lobbyists to hit the army chief deserves prompt reprisal.But the involvement of the high and mighty is going to influence the course of action.

There was another significant issue of a complaint against a serving senior Lt General, who is number 3 in the chain today. As this complaint was sent by the Member of Parliament, necessary action was required to be taken. The Army Chief had informed the Defence Minister, who had asked the Army Chief to take action on any specific complaint. So the Army Chief has sent it to the CBI for further investigation and report.The media is reading here something else. The Defence Minister said that he came to know about these developments in the morning only. He further said, and this is significant, that the Army Hqs have recommended the same General for making him the Army Commander. The Minister was perhaps misled once more: mere inquiry has no effect on service career of officers as per the service rules and administrative law , unless penal action has been taken. In fact, there is something called sealed cover proceedings, meaning the recommendations of the Departmental Promotion Committee(DPC) are kept in a sealed cover if an officer is facing disciplinary proceedings and opened only if he is exonerated subsequently.Even an arraigned officer is entitled to be considered for promotion. That is the law of the land and the violators pay the penalty.So there is nothing wrong in these two actions from the Chief and the Army Hqs. The Minister would be better advised to take full briefing in service rules governing these matters.

The whole issue surrounding the expose in the defence matters, the arms lobbies, commissions and influence peddling are causing untold harm to the nation. Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, tried to end the menace of these lobbies. However, the lobbies vilified him in the Bofors scandal, costing him his Prime Ministership and, perhaps, his life too. I have covered this subject in my book on this website. Governance in India is subverted by all kinds of lobbies operating for money, ably assisted by elected representatives of the people who are desperate to do business with them for money and destroying democracy in the country.The son of the former Prime Minister HD Deva Gowda, who was an MP himself at that time, has made a public revelation today afternoon that his father was approached by middlemen with bribe to clinch defence deals. This shocked the nation and the father went into damage control mode denying anybody approaching him, as he had insulated himself from such elements. He also said that somebody might have casually offered his son, HD Kumaraswami, bribe. So casually is not seriously. This made the son to change his statement to say that somebody approached him and not Deva Gowda and that at this late stage he doesn’t remember the name of the person or the firm. Strange! But it establishes the fact that the lobbies do their business with all kinds of politicians, left-right-mixed or no ideological identity.Deva Gowda always prides to be a simple farmer. MMSingh, the present Prime Minister, is also known to be an honest man. AK Antony’s only quality is honesty. That all such people are simply used as masks to dupe gullible people is clear from the fact that big scandals have taken place without these dignitaries even having any inkling of that. That is the only value of honesty in a corruption ridden polity.

Matters have been muddied by a media that has lost its integrity.The common man has to do his own analysis of the reality without ever depending on the media. Thanks to the information technology revolution, the media fails to cheat the common man, who comes to know about all sides of the story from various sources by just a click of the mouse even before any mischievous, motivated, paid news sinks. The media, specially television, alone loses face and credibility. Audience loyalty is lost for ever and the people switch off the TV channel the moment it repeats any dishonest, concocted or twisted story.In today’s world, the common man is more powerful than the media. Just count the blogs, commentators and writers publishing on the web  daily, displaying the best traditions of freedom of speech and expression, and confront the truth.

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