New Delhi, Sept. 20: The BJP today appeared cautious on claims that a unit under former army chief V.K. Singh conducted questionable operations, the allegations surfacing days after he attended a Narendra Modi rally.
But the party was seen trying to cover its flanks by painting the controversy as another chapter in the Congress-led UPA’s repeated efforts to “undermine” national institutions and as a potential threat to the “morale” of the defence forces.
There was not a squeak on Twitter or elsewhere from Modi, in whose “solidarity” the retired general had raised his hands at an ex-servicemen’s rally in Haryana’s Rewari earlier this week.
Senior spokespersons left it to a junior colleague, Nirmala Sitharaman, to offer explanations.
BJP sources were at pains to stress that V.K. Singh had no “special” association with the party, pointing out that he had shared the dais with other leaders like Haryana’s Om Prakash Chautala and activists like Anna Hazare in the past.
But Sitharaman questioned the timing of the “leak” of the report on the former army chief and insinuated that had he not been seen in Modi’s company, it might not have happened.
Sitharaman made it clear that if there were “allegations on which there was enough prima facie evidence”, the government should take “necessary and appropriate action” but asked why, if the report was ready in March as some claimed, the Centre hadn’t acted yet.
The sources said, though, that the BJP would be cautious after the latest controversy shrouding V.K. Singh, who had earlier taken the Centre to court on a row over his age and retirement date. It is unlikely the party would in the future flaunt him as a trophy find and reward him with a Lok Sabha ticket, the sources said.
The Congress dismissed suggestions about political vendetta and speculation on the timing of the report’s “leak”. “This is a “very serious matter. There are national secrets that cannot be exposed to inquiry but the government must evolve an appropriate mechanism to find out the truth,” spokesperson P.C. Chacko said, replying to questions.
Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said: “The contents of the report are under active consideration of the government. If any malfeasance is found against any serving or retired officer, appropriate action would be initiated.”
Replying to a question on possible action against V.K. Singh, Tewari said: “This is not a question of being individual-specific”.