LT COL NOEL ELLIS | 20 OCTOBER, 2017
LT COL NOEL ELLIS
MUMBAI: As they say old habits die hard so following my habit I switched on TV news in the lunch break a couple of days ago. I saw my Defence Minister addressing a press conference. I thought to myself that war must be imminent. The volume was on mute so I could not gather the gist and my specs too were not on my nose so could not read the ticker either. My curiosity kept increasing. As usual my daughter had hid the remote somewhere. Finally, I could locate it and hear the sweet and melodious voice of the RM. To my utter shock she was discussing Robert Vadra. I shoved a finger in my ear and gave it a shake in disbelief that have I heard it correct that the RM had found the most happening jija ji to talk about. Had she been discussing Gen Javed Bajwa, Pak ISI Chief or Masood Azhar it would have been worth listening to. It took me one minute to get the gist and I flicked to discovery channel.
Madam, I had just written a piece a few days back welcoming you to the folds of the uniformed people. I felt really belittled that the government of the day chose you as the spokesperson to put down someone who may have swindled and made loads of money through his deals as alleged but he doesn’t deserve a mention from “my” RM at least. Madam, as they say in the Army, ladies and politics are never discussed by officers. You leave me no choice except to discuss you and the politics. I felt what you were doing was the politics of a loser.
Is it because all the rest are busy with Gujarat elections and there was no one left to highlight Mr Vadra of all the people? Was it a cover story to camouflage the flak which Mr Shah’s son was supposed to take?
Madam we got to fight a war with our enemies for which you have been chosen as the final authority and word. Here because of political compulsions you had to speak about a person whose in-laws have so much of money that might be equivalent to your defence budget. I am just conjecturing as I am convinced that at least I can see through the smoke screen you raise. Basically the idea was to demean the Congress.
I also know that everything is fair in love and war. Where is love here? Is it love for your party? What about love for the country? Where is war? Is it the political war you are talking about? In any case the RM is not meant to fight with any individual. I feel “ye sab aap ko shobha nahi deta” (this doesn’t suit your appointment and the dignity attached to it)
Hope madam like you have put the Armed Forces to clean all mountainous areas, you now don’t put us to clean all the political muck. You can be rest assured we can do that too but we in the armed forces are way above all this ma’am. We discuss ideas and not people. Had you talked about the measures you were taking to bring back Cdr Kulbhushan Yadav before Diwali or eliminating all terrorist launch pads in POK, I would have appreciated it. Had you told the media about the latest tanks and guns or for that matter the latest warship you launched I would have never spoken a word but when I heard you speaking about a person who is related to the head of your political opponents, my head bows in shame.
I do not know if you have a choice to refuse such press briefings. Madam you are senior to me in age and service. You also know politics well. I have no clue of even how to spell that word starting with a P. But this I definitely know that on one hand you are the most powerful woman of this country who can mobilise resources to fight nations, terrorists and terrorism. You can dominate the skies, put naval blockades against enemy nations and you chose to speak about a person who has got nothing to do with the country’s defence. Not done Ma’am.
Madam it doesn’t look nice for the Defence Minister of India leaving her prime responsibility, to address a few journalists on the few lakh rupees paid by someone, for someone, in some country, to do some travel a few years back. You are in government and you haven’t been able to fix that fellow in any of the conspiracies he is involved in, when all investigating agencies are duty bound to obey the ruling political masters. You also know that things are under courts consideration. Then what makes you come out all guns blazing at this man just because a news channel broke the story. I consider it to be absolutely useless politics. Except to spread negativity you are doing nothing else. Doesn’t suit the decorum your chair deserves.
Be that as it may ma’am, I feel a little uncomfortable when you with such an esteemed post have to speak about a person who doesn’t matter to anyone. If you can get back the thousands of crores that Malaya took away, you can surely recover the same one day from this person too. Madam, defence is a different ball game which you now got to be serious about. However, kindly remember the armed forces stay away from politics. Please don’t mix the two. I am no one to advise you but you are responsible for “Desh ki Raksha” not “Vadra se raksha”. Will you ever understand? I wonder!
(Lt General Noel Ellis is retired from the Indian Army after serving the mechanised forces for 23 years. He runs a blog)