Debate re-erupts on 2012 troop movement news report

SansadTV Bureau
FILE: File Photo of General VK Singh in his uniform.  Photo - PTI

FILE: File Photo of General VK Singh in his uniform.
Photo – PTI

Former Union Minister and Congress leader Manish Tewari raked up the 2012 troop movement controversy, saying a media report about army units moving towards Delhi without notifying the then UPA government was “unfortunate but true”. The Congress party, on its part, distanced itself from his claims while former Army Chief VK Singh, now a BJP MP and minister in Modi government, rubbished the remarks.

The ruling BJP has now questioned the timing of the remarks and demanded a statement from former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the matter.

Replying to a question at a book release function in Delhi on Saturday, former MoS Information and Broadcasting, Manish Tewari had said, “At that point of time I used to serve in the Standing Committee on Defence. And it’s unfortunate but the story was true. Story was correct”.

“I am not getting into an argument. All I am saying is that to the best of my knowledge that story was correct,” Tewari added.

The contentious news report was published by the national daily The Indian Express on April 4, 2012, titled “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt”.

Reacting to his remark, former Army chief and now MoS External Affairs VK Singh instead asked Tewari to read his book which talks about the issue. “He should be told to read my book, which reveals all (about the issue),” VK Singh said.

The principal opposition party, Congress on its part distanced itself fom Tewari’s claims.

“We on behalf of Congress very clearly and categorically want to deny this report,” Congress party spokesperson PC Chacko said even as another spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi adding said there is no truth in the report. “I am again clarifying there is absolutely no truth in it (claims about troop movement in 2012),” he said.

According to The Indian Express report, central intelligence agencies had reported that on the night of January 16, 2012 there was an unexpected – and non-notified – movement by a key military unit from mechanised infantry based in Hisar in the direction of the capital. On the same night, another unit – identified as a large element of the 50th Para Brigade based at Agra – had also been moved towards Delhi, according to the newspaper report.

The alleged movement took place at a time when Singh was locked in a confrontation with the government in a row over his age.

Questioning the timing of the remarks, the BJP demanded a statement from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Defence Minister AK Antony on the issue.

“Manish Tewari is raking up an issue wherein their own government had denied that there was any coup movement. His now raising this issue throws many questions which must be answered by the Congress,” BJP leader Siddhartha Nath Singh said adding “BJP demands a statement from no one less than former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Defence Minister A K Antony”.

Manish Tewari, however, got an ally in senior JD (U) leader KC Tyagi, who sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take cognisance of the issue and demanded that Singh be sacked.

“The issue (of troops’ movement) is detrimental for democracy. I will urge Prime Minister Modi to take cognisance of this report and remove Singh from the Cabinet. He should also set up a high powered committee to probe this issue,” Tyagi said.

(With inputs from the PTI)