Archive for April 2nd, 2012

How the ‘bribe bomb’ landed at ‘The Hindu’

2 April 2012

The chief of the Army staff, Gen V.K. Singh‘s interview to The Hindu on March 26, in which he accused a former army officer of making a Rs 14 crore bribe offer, stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest last Monday.

The timing of the charge, on the eve of the BRICS summit in Delhi, set tongues wagging.

The paper’s interviewer, Vidya Subrahmaniam, provides some perspective in today’s issue:

“I met the General at his official residence in Delhi for an hour-long taped interview a few days before its eventual publication on March 26. This time was required to fill in some gaps in information as well as to transcribe the long, meandering content of the conversation.

“It wasn’t as if the chief was bursting with unspilled secrets.

“The interview, I assumed, was about the age controversy and the state of the army, and so it was for the large part…. Half way into the questioning, when he was specifically asked who was behind the controversy, he mentioned “the Adarsh lobby and some equipment lobbyists.”

“Then suddenly he dropped the bombshell about the bribe attempt. I absorbed the information trying not to show too much excitement, and quizzed him on the details. He said it was for clearing the purchase of a tranche of overpriced trucks that had no proper facility for “maintenance and service.”

“Also that he was so enraged by the brazenness of it all that he took it up with Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony. But Gen. Singh simply wouldn’t part with more information, nor explain what action he or the Minister had taken.

“‘Leave it,’ he said.

“Journalists know when they have a scoop and they also know how far to push their source. I do not know if the General knowingly concealed the scoop in a maze of information, I do not know if his intention all along was only to disclose the bribe attempt, but at that point, my overwhelming concern was that he shouldn’t retract….

“I emerged out of Gen.Singh’s home with the BRICS summit, still many days away, hardly in my consciousness.”

Illustration: Keshav/ The Hindu

Read the full article: Sack the general, did you say?

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