Even though the government has rubbished the news report on “unusual” movement of two elite Army units towards Delhi in mid-January, the issue seems to be far from over as another newspaper, Thursday, claimed that a senior minister in the UPA government was behind the suspected coup attempt story.
As per The Sunday Guardian, a senior minister was the ‘mastermind’ behind the story aimed at aggravating the ‘friction’ between the political establishment and Army Chief VK Singh.
Quoting sources, the newspaper claimed that the minister is connected – through his close relative – with the defense procurement lobbies, who have been at loggerheads with the Army Chief.
The minister expected the political class to unite against the Army Chief at the very mention of a Pakistan-like situation in India, the report said.
However, the minister miscalculated the response of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who called the troop movement story as “alarmist” and that of Defence Minister AK Antony, who slammed attempts to question the patriotism of the armed forces.
The minister had assumed that Prime Minister and the Defence Minister would decline to comment on the report, thereby increasing the pressure on Army Chief to quit.
The Sunday Guardian claims that a close relative of the minister in question has been regularly meeting with arms merchants and their lobbyists during his many visits abroad.
Dubai, London and Bangkok are the three locations where the arms lobbyists usually ‘entertain’ VVIPs from India, the report added.
However, the entire episode has posed serious questions about the extent of the reach of arms lobbyists in the establishment. A senior minister playing into the hands of arms lobbyists is a development which would reverberate in the political circles and cause further unease to the Manmohan Singh-led government.
Meanwhile, Intelligence Bureau sources told Zee News that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been informed that a group of lobbyists were trying to plant “alarmist stories in a bid to discredit the Army Chief”.
The IB has told the PM that the row between the Army Chief and MoD has divided the Army in to two camps and brigadiers are almost functioning as “moles” leaking information to the media and the arms lobbies.