The nation has just witnessed the Army Chief take on the political class. After the bitter date of birth row, General VK Singh’s disclosures on the bribe offer and gaps in armed forces’ preparedness have led to debates all around. The question being asked is - whether the Chief should be sacked for bringing to public domain a highly secretive matter.
JD(U) chief and a strong voice of Parliament, and also convener of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Sharad Yadav spoke one-on-one with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi about General VK Singh, Anna Hazare and Lokpal Bill.
Following are the excerpts:
Q. We are the largest buyers of weapons and armaments for our defense forces and according to Army Chief General VK Singh, 97% of our weaponry is obsolete. What do you think about the General’s disclosure?
A. Talking about military operations no can say with such precision that the information is correct. Having said that, I am extremely disappointed by what General VK Singh has said. As a matter of fact I proposed Defence Minister AK Antony to sack General Singh a couple of months back when he was embroiled in the age controversy. The Indian Army is an institution of repute and if a Chief of such an honorable institution is into such deeds, he should be sacked immediately on disciplinary grounds.
Q. It’s ironical that when most of the parties were rooting for Army Chief’s removal, BJP held a different opinion. Can you comment please?
A. People who are running the government cannot be swayed by the interest of any one political party. It will do what will be the best for the welfare and security of the nation. Why do you think people chose their representatives in Lok Sabha? To ensure that they perform all their duties and responsibilities and not just get influenced by any party.
Q. Mr. Yadav, you just raised a valid point here. Do you feel such differences create a vacuum in the decision-making process thereby damaging India as an institution?
A. Absolutely, these people through their action pull down the credibility of our nation significantly. State is run by the institution. An Army Chief is an institution in itself, much like the Election Commission or Parliament. It should be given due honour. And to uphold that dignity all unscrupulous agents should be removed immediately. General Singh should have been sacked just when he got embroiled in the age controversy.
Q. But here General Singh has a different story to tell. He alleges that Rs 14 crore were offered to him as bribe, which left not only the Defense Minister but the entire nation shell shocked? Don’t you think people would lose their confidence this way?
A. About the matter, I spoke to the Defense Minister, my good friend AK Antony. But to my disappointment he didn’t take any strong decision. He should have acted then and there. A defense minister does not require any proof of evidence. If the Army Chief was at fault in the first place, he should have been removed on disciplinary grounds. Mr. Antony relied on paper work which only gave time for the General to strengthen his stand.
Q. Do you think General Singh’s expose is an attempt to gain ground after the age row and a stunt to tarnish the political establishment of India?
A. Look, this is such an unpleasant affair that there is no point discussing it anymore. However, out of all this, one thing is apparent that this government is so weak that it cannot handle or deal with any political or for that matter non-political crisis.
Q. Coming to Anna, why did you support him in the first place when you literally piloted a censure motion against him? Why did you give so much importance to Team Anna?
A. No, no… this is completely false. I have never supported a person. They are talking about us but they have no idea what we do. Majority of MPs are good and have done their bit to fight corruption. We are the ones who have exposed 2G and CWG scams and sent the corrupt to jail. Only Parliament can fight the issue of corruption. It has to set terms of reference to strengthen institutions to fight corruption. Parliament and corruption cannot go together.
Q. Team Anna claims that 162 MP sitting in Parliament are corrupt. And the politicians with clean image are inadvertently trying to safeguard them. What do you have to say about that?
A. Team Anna said that Parliament is an ineffective institution. Team Anna is following a trend to criticise parliamentarians and steps must be taken to restore belief in Parliament. Slamming MPs is a trend now. By using derogatory language against parliamentarians, the civil society members are only tarnishing the foremost institution of democracy, and that is Parliament. India is not like China where what you say becomes a rule. Here everything needs to be looked intensively and the pros and cons need to be assessed for a balanced way to work out things.
Actions of Team Anna were a threat to liberty of action among the members of Parliament. And this kind of will which kills freedom itself is not freedom but anarchy.
Adapted by Bikas Bhagat