Manish Tewari says 2012 troop movement report true, Cong denies it

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 10, 2016 21:35 IST
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Manish Tewari. Congress has denied claims by Tewari that a newspaper article about a 2012 army coup was true. (HT File photo)

The Congress has denied claims made by party leader Manish Tewari that an April 2012 Indian Express article, suggesting an attempted coup by the army, was true.

The Congress dismissed, on Sunday, party leader Manish Tewari’s statement that a controversial news report on troop movement towards Delhi in 2012 was true, even as the BJP questioned the timing of the claim.

The government maintained that the army and functionaries of the ruling UPA had denied any such development at the time.

“When this alleged incident regarding the army is supposed to have taken place, senior ministers had even then clarified, and I am now clarifying, that there is absolutely no truth in the allegation,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.

“My colleague was neither a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security, nor any relevant decision making body. In fact, it was also clarified that some troop movements are necessary inbuilt and inevitable part of a defence mechanism. But to read into it all the other elements is inappropriate, unnecessary and completely wrong.”

Union minister VK Singh, who was the army chief at the time of the controversy, also hit out at Tewari.

“He has no work these days. He should be asked to read my book which reveals everything (on the issue),” the minister said.

Reigniting the row, Tewari termed “unfortunate but true” an Indian Express report on April 4, 2012, titled “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt”.

The article was about “unexpected” movement of military troops from Hissar in Haryana, towards Delhi on the night of January 16, 2012, which the then UPA government was reportedly unaware of. Another unit of the airborne 50 Para Brigade based in Agra was also reportedly marching towards Delhi.

“At that point of time I used to serve in the Standing Committee on Defence. And it’s unfortunate but the story was true. Story was correct. I am not getting into an argument. All I am saying is that to the best of my knowledge that story was correct,” said Tewari, who served as minister of state for information and broadcasting in the UPA government between October 2012 and May 2014.

Singhvi warned Tewari against commenting on things he was not authorised to speak about.

“I wish to reiterate that and wish to request and advice on behalf of Congress party that such remarks and observations in respect to which he is neither the authorised spokesperson of the party nor the spokesperson on foreign and defence affairs, nor privy to any of the relevant committee or decision-making body should have been and should be in the future completely avoided,” he said.

Questioning the timing of Tewari’s remarks, the BJP demanded a statement from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ex-defence minister AK Antony on the matter.

“Manish Tewari is raking up the issue wherein his own government had denied that there was any coup movement. His now raising this issue throws up many questions which must be answered by the Congress,” BJP general secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the army had already denied the report when the UPA was in power.

“It is an unwritten rule of parliamentary etiquette that you don’t disclose what is talked about inside the parliamentary committee,” he said.

Isolated in his own party, Tewari stood by his remarks. “Whatever I said yesterday, I have nothing more to add or subtract.”

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