According to a sensational report by the Sunday Guardian, the UPA government actively participated in perpetuating the rumors of an impending coup in 2012. According to the report, the objective of this move was two-fold. One was to discredit General VK Singh who was engaged in a bitter stand-off with the Defense Ministry over age issue. Secondly, at the time the UPA government was reeling under corruption charges and its credibility was at an all-time low. As such, the UPA furthered the rumor of the coup to distract the population, claims the report.
The report further states that although the government had tried to rope-in Intelligence Bureau to further the rumor by legitimizing and ‘substantiating’ it. But the IB had refused to do this. Even then, someone in the government ‘leaked’ the story and the media lapped it up.
Notably, the first report of the ‘coup’ came out in Indian Express on April 4, 2012. The story, titled ‘The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt’, was written by the Editor-In-Chief of the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta.
The report claimed that that two “sizeable army units” had moved towards Raisina Hills in January. The story further claimed that “lookouts confirmed the movement of what looked like a sizeable unit. It was soon identified as an entire unit of Mechanised Infantry, with its Russian-made Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs), carried on 48 tank transporters. The movement was towards the capital, which was odd.”
The story further claimed that there was an additional unit involved in this ‘attempted coup’. “This unit was identified as a large element of the airborne 50 Para Brigade based at Agra”, claimed the report.
Furthermore, the story claimed that remedial steps were taken to ‘slowdown the troop movement including ‘deliberately causing traffic jam on national highways leading to Delhi.’ It further claimed that Defense Secretary was even asked to cut short his foreign visit.
The exhaustive story by Shekhar Gupta was piece-de-resistance in fear-mongering. Now with the new revelations, it seems the report was also a skillfully executed government PR by a reputed media outlet. Apart from revealing the disturbing nature of the relationship of political leadership and supposedly free-press, the most disturbing aspect of the report by Sunday Guardian is the extent of rot in the UPA it reveals. It has been much talked about how the supposed leadership was not in control but the report substantiates the fact that the lame-duck government deliberately spread fake news to target the Indian Army, defamed an honest General and compromised India’s national security. The report by Sunday Guardian claims that the story that appeared on the fictional coup was ‘leaked’ by a person ‘who occupied a top Constitutional post later in his career.’
The desperate attempts by the UPA to retain power, however, did not work. Neither it harmed the reputation of General VK Singh who went on to have a successful political career later nor it helped in assuaging the general sense of anger against the UPA, for the very purpose the story of the fictional coup was made up. But it is still a cautionary tale in how low the Congress can go to retain political power. A lesson the electorate must remember before the General Elections 2019.