Betrayal by the betrayed?
Written by The Indian EXPRESS   
Sunday, 04 March 2001

Betrayal by the betrayed?

 Vishnu Bhagwat's latest book inflicts

serious damage on the Indian Navy


ImageTHE book is indeed titled correctly. It' a betrayal-right from the word go. Firstly. Mr Vishnu Bhag­wat addreses himself as an Admi­ral. a title he can no longer use after the sacking as per the Supreme Court direc­tive. The venom spewing 400-paged book. not entirely based on truth. is a rather painful reminder of Mr Bhagwat's infa­mous writ petition of the 1990s that had run into over 400 pages. On both occa­sions. starting from the prime minister down the line. Mr Bhagwat has faulted the entire system. But what is even more dis­turbing is the timing of the book's release, On one side there was a fleet of 80 war­ships from 25 different countries lined up for the president's review. On the other side was Mr Bhagwat standing at the. Nari­man Point distributing his book freely to anyone who even remotely looked for­eigner.

The book brings out a disturbed mind capable of causing greater harm to the self-respect and pride of the Naval frater­nity to which Mr Bhagwat himself once belonged. While he takes pride in calling him elf a champion of the Navy's cause and highlights hi devotion to the service. he ridicules the system and all contained therein. He quotes P Haksar, who is no longer alive to confirm Mr Bhagwat's alle­gations. He writes about the. spying techniques mentioning even the duration of telephonic conversation between theRak­ sha Mantriri and the Chief of Southern Command but does not substantiate as to how did he gel to know such details that are confidential in nature.


Throwing wild allegations is a trait, a ploy to mislead people that Mr Bhagwat has successfully deployed yet again.  It per­haps was prompted by his 400-paged peti­tion that said a lot and substantiated nothing, but served the purpose neverthe­less. Mr Bhagwat has given a one sided version that is meant to only raise eyebrows.


The book describes Vice Admiral Harinder Singh, the present Chief of Southern Naval Command, as a traitor who connived with politicians. minis­ters and arms dealers et al. However. in a document that was subsequently pub­lished by the Government of India shows Mr Bhagwat' double speak. Under his, own signature. Mr Bhagwat describes Vice Admiral Singh as an outstanding officer with exceptional qualities. The records also indicate Vice Admiral Singh having spent over J60 months in opera­tion/sea commands for which he had been suitably awarded with highest dec­orations.


The story is no different in case of Admiral Sushil Kumar, who has come in for scathing attack in the book. Admiral Sushil Kumar too has allegedly been involved with ministers and politicians and helped the government in the sacking of Mr Bhagwat Not only is Admiral Sushil Kumar the senior most naval officer he is also regarded for his fine leadership qualities and the manner in which he has brought the Navy and its sagging morale back on the even keel after the Bhagwat episode. Admiral Sushi! Kumar's tenure till date is being widely regarded as one of the finest where the three serices oper­ated as a cohesive force during the Kargil war.


'Mr Bhagwat's Ire on "Mr. Ajit t Kumar is quite understandable. For long there has been a struggle between the bureaucracy and the military brass over various com­mand and control matters. ln a democra­tic system like ours, it's the parliament that exercises control over the military. Bureaucracy thus arts as a mediator. a role that has come in for severe criticism time and again from many quarters. But by attacking Mr Ajit Kumar's wife, Bhagwat has stooped to undesirable levels. Besides "Mr. Ajit Kumar is no-nonsense bureau­crat who has openly suggested reduction 0f bureaucratic controls in the government machinery. His tenure as a defence secretary may have been shrouded in secrecy due to obvious reasons, though. The book has dwelled at length on mun­dane matters and on non-relevant Issues, linking them to the political games that politicians play. It's a subject that can be debated forever without reaching any rel­evant conclusion. All in all. the book appears to be an exercise carried out with a vendetta. it serves no purpose but his own. By timing its release coinciding with the International Fleet review, Mr Bhag­wat has attempted to heap an insult on a service that gave him so much. His 'self before the service’ attitude has possibly done a severe damage from which it would take a long time for the Indian Navy to recover.


 Betrayal of the Defence Forces by Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat; Manas Publications; Rs 595

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