They came, they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries and went away without obliging a huge posse of media persons expecting fireworks at the first joint public appearance of the defence minister AK Antony and the chief of the army staff, Gen VK Singh at Ooty on Tuesday.
The occasion was somber -- memorial service to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw held at Parsi Zorashtrian Cemetry near the district police office in the picturesque Ooty hill town in Nilgiris district, some 570 km from Chennai.
Antony and Gen Singh arrived in their separate convoys and were received at the steps of the cemetery by the army chief designate Bikram Singh. Soon, they laid wreaths to pay respects to the great soldier. In the ten odd minutes the duo spent there, they were seen talking to one another.
While going, Gen Singh refused to speak to the media saying that the occasion was somber. Antony too refused to answer any questions, on politics or on Gen Singh. The one question he entertained was whether Sam Manekshaw would be decorated with the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.
“It is not up to me. It is for the government to decide,” was his response to this as he walked away from the media persons.
The general had already met the defence minister in Delhi on Sunday, reports said. This meeting was preceded by a statement by the general that that appeared conciliatory and on the other hand Antony declared that all three service chiefs enjoyed his confidence.