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Antony fights fire with ice

delhi Updated: Mar 30, 2012 01:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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File-photo-of-defence-minister-AK-Antony-at-Palam-Airport--in-New-Delhi-HT-Arvind-Yadav

While army chief VK Singh has been going all guns blazing against the government as well as his colleagues in the army, defence minister AK Antony has adopted a mild attitude to diffuse the escalating situation.

Though several parties, including the Congress, have stepped up criticism against General Singh's maverick ways, Antony refrained from making any harsh comments during a press conference on Thursday, where he faced questions for nearly an hour.

"All the three service chiefs enjoy the confidence of the government. They are working… otherwise, how can they continue?" he asked in reply to a question whether General Singh still enjoys the government's confidence.

Antony tactfully used his long track record of a blemish-free public life to drive home the point, though obliquely, that the army chief's actions were triggered by his failure to settle his date of birth issue in the Supreme Court.

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However, when asked if this was the origin of the problem, he chose to ignore the question. Instead, the defence minister spoke on the leak of General Singh's letter to the PM, assuring that the government would nab the persons behind the "anti-national" act.

Through his candour, the soft-spoken defence minister has even managed to win some support from the BJP over the last few days.

SS Ahluwalia, the BJP's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said his party had full faith in Antony's reputation as an honest minister. For his part, Antony thanked the opposition for appreciating the government's stand on the issue.

Asked why he had turned emotional when MPs accused him of inaction on General Singh's bribery allegations, Antony said, "I was hurt, and shared my feelings in Parliament."

The defence minister said his judgments, however, would come on the basis of facts - not emotions.

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