From The Editor’s Desk: While the CNN International, a Japanese TV Channel and many other foreign news services were busy hailing India’s efforts in the rescue operations in strife-torn Yemen and 26 countries sought our support to help rescuing their stranded citizens, our own TV channels (barring a few) were busy showing Dhoni’s Bike and Anushka-Kohli’s romance to raise the TRPs. But, the General, known for his straight and bitter talks, revived them from the sleep.
The so-called media intellectuals ganged up against General VK Singh and used all tricks and methods to put him on back foot. But, they forgot that they are now dealing with a Retired Army General, who gave 42 years of his life to national service, never bowed before anyone and took heads on when things go against his principles.
It started way back in April 2012 when the Indian Express published a story that General VK Singh had the movement of two units of the Indian Army towards Delhi in January 2012, leaving then UPA Government shell-shocked. The IE claimed that central intelligence agencies reported an unexpected and non-notified movement by a mechanised infantry unit from Hisar and a paratroopers detachment from Agra in the direction of the capital.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had dubbed the Express report as alarmist and said it should not be taken at face value while Defence Minister said he did not doubt the patriotism of the armed forces and that the reported movement of two army units was “nothing unusual”. However, Lieutenant General AK Choudhary, who was the then Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) claimed that he was called in by then Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma to explain the movement, asked to immediately send the troops back and file a report to the government.
General VK Singh responded sharply to the Indian Express report with a tweet on February 21, 2014: “Saw report by presstitutes of IE, hilarious front page justification of Coupta. Confirms who cooked up routine move to denigrate army”. There was a huge uproar over his remarks. The regular viewers of TimesNow will recall that Arnab did mistook the word ‘Presstitutes’ as something else during the Newshour debate at that time, but was corrected by another panelist. He may not admit that today, but a review of the debate during that period, will confirm it.
A lot of water has flown since then. General VK Singh joined the BJP and won from Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat by a huge margin. He also became the MoS, External Affairs. The General, known for his straight talks, never shared a cordial relations with a majority of of Lutyen’s Media. the major controversy erupted on March 23, when General VK Singh was sent to attend the Pakistan Day celebrations as part of the government’s representatives.
The biased media was at its feet again. They did not raise any questions when UPA Ministers attended those celebrations in the past. But, they sought to nail General VK Singh, as he hailed from the Army background. An upset VK Singh tweeted about ‘duty and disgust’. In his tweets, he sought to show the media that duty comes first and that he expressed his disgust with the TV channels for raking up such a non-issue. But, the media deliberately made it VK Singh’s “disgust” with Modi Government and his senior colleague Sushma Swaraj.
Then came ‘Operation Rahat’ in Yemen. We never saw any Union Minister going to the war zone of a foreign country and monitoring the rescue operations by motivating the IAF and Indian Navy. General VK Singh did that. He camped there for weeks, did his best and brought accolade to India. Not only 5,600 Indians were rescued in Yemen, but also over 600 foreign nationals were evacuated by the Indian Navy and IAF. India’s prowess on the global arena, was proved beyond doubt when 26 countries, including USA, Germany, France, Netherlands and Egypt sought our help to evacuate their stranded citizens.
But, unfortunately, neither General VK Singh nor Government of India’s efforts managed to get a slot in TV channnels. They just treated it as another news and failed to highlight the good job done by the Government, Indian Navy and IAF. Was it not enough for the General to express his anguish? He did so in a sarcastic manner. Everyone else knew it was sarcasm. But, the media honchos did not accept it. Yet, they lost the battle in a day. All TV channels that sought to put General VK Singh on the mat, had to retreat. They stopped raising the issue, thanks to the huge backlash on social media. It was a big surprise to see common people joining hands for a cause and target the media, who unleashed a war on VK Singh.
When Gen VK Singh returned home, he still did not get the attention he deserved. But, the media ran after Rahul Gandhi, who ended his two-month-long mysterious disappearance and returned home to take charge of Congress Party. Still, the General clarified his stand and said that his comment was directed at a section of media, not at all. “90% of media people are doing their job right, while 10% are not. My comment was for those 10%”, he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded the media of its duty and responsibilities and saluted Gen Singh for his commendable efforts. The salute offered by the PM, says it all and must serve as an eye-opener for everyone, including media sans party politics.
© Sagar Satapathy @ ONI