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archive: Injecting politics in Kargil counter-productive

Injecting politics in Kargil counter-productive

Virendra Kapoor
The Free Press Journal
July 28, 1999

    Title: Injecting politics in Kargil counter-productive
    Author: Virendra Kapoor
    Publication: The Free Press Journal
    Date: July 28, 1999
    Natwar Singh has got company.  Legal eagle Kapil Sibal is now
    furiously engaged in trying to make the mini war in Kargil a great
    defeat for India.  And, oh boy, how the Government and the BJP-led
    coalition are indebted to the S and S duo!  That is the best thing
    that could have happened to the Vajpayee-led National Democratic
    Alliance on the eve of a crucial parliamentary poll.  Only half in
    jest was it said that with Singh firing from all the guns from all the
    TV studios at Vajpayee, the latter would soon cede the slot of the
    NDA's chief campaigner to the former diplomat.  Now it seems that
    Vajpayee stands in real danger of being pushed back as the number
    three vote-catcher for the BJP-led coalition even as Singh and Sibal
    slug it out between themselves for the number one and two positions.
    The superannuated diplomat and the amoral lawyer are not simply in
    sync with the national mood in the wake of the war in Kargil.  Their
    harsh and invariably unsubstantiated charges are meant more to get
    them closer to the dumb deity of 10 Janpath than to convince the
    countrymen at large that the Prime Minister had bungled in Kargil. 
    Singh had reason to be unhappy with the Government for accomplishing
    the main objective of Operation Vijay sooner than he had hoped.  He
    had allowed himself to be persuaded that the war in Kargil would go on
    till at least September when the United Nations' General Assembly
    would meet like every year for its annual jamboree.  'Pakistan would
    rake up the issue in the General Assembly, which, in rum, would lead
    to the internationalization of the Kashmir issue,' the Congress Party
    expert on foreign affairs and putative Foreign Minister in any future
    Sonia Government had said in several of his on and off-the-record
    briefings to the media.
    Of course, Singh was way off the mark in assessing the time-frame of
    the armed hostilities as he was in analysing all other facets of the
    war in Kargil.  You need to be clever to be critical; Singh was being
    critical without being clever.  Hence everytime he raised his finger
    at Vajpayee, he lost the sympathy of his viewers\listeners\readers,
    etc.  When the entire nation was emotionally engaged in supporting the
    valiant soldiers fighting to. repulse the enemy from the craggy
    mountains in Kargil, Singh was engaged in campaigning for the coming
    parliamentary election.  The more the public mood concentrated on the
    valour and sacrifices of our young officers and jawans, the more
    shrill Singh sounded as the spokesperson of Sonia's party about the
    war in Kargil.  Everyone outside Sonia's charmed circle of hangers-on
    was put off by Sangh's nit-picking.  But none dared call a halt to
    Singh's ravings and rantings for fear of incurring the wrath of the
    supreme. leader of 10 Janpath.  Alas, the Jat revolt against the
    Congress Party in Rajasthan coupled with Singh's felt need to mend
    fences with his constituents in order for him to realise his immediate
    dream of getting elected to the Lok Sabha had deprived the BIP-led
    coalition of the services of the ace campaigner.
    But the void has now been filled by Sibal who lost no time in stepping
    into Singh's shoes.  And being far more clever and articulate than
    Singh, Sibal is deter-mined to bring all his powers of diversionary
    declamations and lawyerly debates in order to turn the Kargil victory
    for the nation into a huge defeat for his party.  The contempt he
    affects for 'that prime minister' on myriad television talk shows
    detracts nothing from Vajpayee's position of pre-eminence in the
    nation's polity today.  It only shows the loaded lawyer's personal and
    political pique - and his total lack of civility.  For someone who has
    been a senior Supreme Court advocate, Sibal's acerbic mannerism and
    his seeming. ignorance about the terms of political discourse is
    indeed shocking.
    A good lawyer or had, he/she is necessarily supposed to defend the
    indefensible - after all, his/her livelihood depends entirely on not
    being judgmental about law-breakers.  But Sibal's preferred choice of
    the second profession, namely, politics entails some such
    constraints.  Since the ultimate court of appeal in politics is the
    people of India one has to at all times try and be in consonance with
    their moods and their aspirations.  On Kargil, despite the tragically
    high loss of lives of our soldiers, alas, the Congress Party's verbal
    warriors have been shooting their mouths off without endearing
    themselves wee bit to the public.  They denigrated the Indian
    successes oil Kargil on all three fronts viz. moral, diplomatic and
    Early on in Operation Vijay, the  Congress Party rushed to lampoon the
    Lahore visit of Vajpayee when its in-house balloonist made a huge
    likeness of an over-turned bus with the legend Delhi-Lahore-Kargil
    emblazoned on it.  This was as if the Paki intruders in Kargil had
    come in the Lahore-Delhi bus. ( Lest you forget, the Lahore bus
    service was never suspended even at the peak of the Kargil hostilities
    and continues uninterrupted to this day.) That inverted rubber bus
    symbolised less Vajpayee's naivete in proffering the hand of
    friendship to our neighbour and more the Congress Party's opportunism
    in seeking to exploit the war in Kargil for partisan ends.  After that
    Congress bus turned turtle and Singh withdrew to the backwaters of
    Rajasthan it is now Sibal's turn to rifle through the records of the
    Indian Army for foisting the charge of intelligence failure against
    'that Prime Minister.'
    Before we dispose of that unfortunate business of the penalised
    brigade commander's alleged letter to the Chief of the Army Staff, let
    me make a general comment in passing.  Which is that all acts of
    aggression any-where in any war needs must be accompanied by a great
    element of surprise.  It is not possible for the army to be in a state
    of war-readiness at the border round the year.  If your, neighbour is
    bent upon committing aggression against you, he shall have the initial
    advantages of surprise and the location of the theatre of war of his
    own choosing.  Each time Pakistan committed aggression against India,
    it took us by surprise, be it 1947, 1965 1971 or 1999.  And in 1962 we
    were completely taken by surprise by the Chinese in Aksai-Chin,
    Surely, this repeated failure to anticipate hostile action by our
    neighbours indicates a flawed approach on the part of our armed
    forces.  Maybe the budget allocation for defence was niggardly as it
    did not ensure the costly aerial and radar surveillance.  Maybe
    post-Kargil, the Finance Minister would loosen the purse strings to
    provide for satellite reconnaissance and remote sensors all along the
    border.  But the fact that the Indian Army used to withdraw well
    inside into our territory during the killer winter months and that
    this was the routine followed for at least two decades or more cannot
    be denied by anyone who has tried to appreciate the real facts as
    against Congress fiction about the war in Kargil.
    Now about the quality of evidence produced by Sibal.  Contrary to
    Sibal's claim, Surinder Singh, the Brigadier commanding the brigade in
    Kargil when Operation Vijay was launched and who had since been sent
    on a punishment posting to Bihar, wrote no letter to the Army Chief,
    General Malik in August last year.  Even the letter number which Sibal
    intoned so very loudly at his press conference, for the benefit, no
    doubt, of TV channels, has been found to be false.  So much for his
    concern for truth.  However insofar as he sought to lay the blame at
    the doorstep of General Malik, Sibal was guilty of playing politics '
    with the armed forces.  The General's office has lost no time in
    denying the existence of such a letter.  Brigadiers, Sibal ought to
    know, do not normally address their letters directly to the Generals. 
    Will Sibal argue for the truth, at least this once, as an Indian and
    not as a Congressman?
    He is good at defending the likes of fodder scamsters like Laloo Yadav
    in return for the re-ward of Rajya Sabha membership.  He should not
    blot his copy book by speaking about matters about which lie knows
    precious, little.  Even good lawyers can come to grief arguing
    terrible briefs.  Sibal cannot but burn his ringers pushing the
    Congress Party's cooked up non-case on Kargil.

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