The man who leaked too much – Aditya Sinha (An editor who does not even know who Saikat Datta, his correspondent is)

Sunday, April 1, 2012
<a href='/authors/aditya-sinha' style='color:#731643;#000;'>Aditya Sinha</a>

Aditya Sinha

Several people, and not just government agents, have asked DNA to identify who leaked the letter sent by the Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, which contains a few home truths about India’s defence preparedness. Frankly, dear defenseless DNA reader, even I don’t know the source of the letter; our Delhi Bureau Chief Saikat Datta tells me nothing. He doesn’t tell me what stories he plans to file; he doesn’t mark attendance of correspondents; why, he hasn’t even told me his real name — he’s an undercover reporter and Saikat Datta is his cover name, not his real one. I tell you, Editors these days are not a patch on the Editors of yore, alas and alack.

But Editors today are resourceful enough to figure things out on their own. So in the national interest, as well as self-interest, yours truly gave it a try.

It wasn’t Gen Singh though he’s the obvious candidate. In an Agatha Christie novel, the likely suspect usually departs next. Gen Singh was humiliated in a futile fight with the government over his age; he’s retiring in another two months so has little to lose (sacking him will just create unnecessary bad blood in the armed forces); and he’s the one who wrote the letter — presumably such high-level correspondence hasn’t passed through too many hands. Also, it came on the heels of his disclosure of a bribery attempt, so it seems like one of those one-two attacks that Army war manuals are proud of.

Gen Singh’s mock-horror declaration, that the leak was high treason, seems disingenuous. It’s too much like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, where the actual murderer latched on to Hercule Poirot as he went about sleuthing. Still, Gen Singh’s obviousness perhaps encouraged the true suspect to go ahead with the sinister leak. Gen Singh, I exonerate you!

We thus have to start at the other end: not at who benefits, but at who suffers from the leak. That’s not difficult: the generally suffering Defence Minister, AK Antony. This is a man who’s trying to displace VR Krishna Menon, who took responsibility for losing the 1962 China war, as our worst-ever defence minister. This is a man who was a failure as Kerala Chief Minister not once, not twice, but thrice. This is a man who uses the veneer of incorruptibility to hide his inability to take decisions — an incompetent administrator who has brought paralysis to defence procurement without actually cleaning up the process (as evidenced by the decades-long Tatra truck scam). This is a defence minister who faints at parades (NDA, May 2008).

Worse, Antony has brought civil-military relations to such an all-time low simply because he could not in seven years take an early call on Gen VK Singh’s age. There can be no greater evidence of his utter unsuitability for anything.

Yet it is a truism in the political class that Antony is trusted by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Whenever there is speculation over the next President of India, his name is on the short-list. And whenever there is speculation on who will replace Dr Manmohan Singh as prime minister, Antony’s name crops up, along with that great Dalit icon and power minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Could Shinde have leaked the letter? He has the motive: eliminating a strong rival for the prime minister’s job. However, Shinde is so ‘vanilla’ that he has to be eliminated as a suspect; he looks like the sort who can only figure as a villain in an Enid Blyton novel (though if someone were to make a Tintin-zombie film, Shinde could play lead). Also, he probably had no official access to the letter; someone would have had to have leaked it to him, so technically he isn’t the leaker.

This leaves other Congress aspirants to the top post. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has shown desperation for the job, going so far as wage war in public against the upstart home minister, P Chidambaram. However, the evidence from his flaccid budget suggests he has run out of steam, and that a Machiavellian scheme was beyond him. The other suspect would be Chidambaram, and as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security he might have had access to the letter. It’s no secret that he’s been waging a quiet war within government against Antony. However, I discount Chidambaram for the simple reason that by this line of inquiry there’s a more likely suspect.

Yes, I’m talking about Manmohan Singh. He had access to the letter. He had the motive: if there is no candidate to replace him no matter how many crises rock UPA-2 (and there are going to be many before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls), he can remain comfortably ensconced; after all, the Congress has long followed the TINA (There Is No Alternative) theory of election and selection. And no one would think of suspecting him. Think of it: that serene smile, that deferential voice — what a good cover for a devious mind! Yes, I am convinced that Manmohan Singh is the culprit. He leaked the letter. Case closed.

The writer is the Editor-in-Chief, DNA, based in Mumbai


About janamejayan

A Viraat Hindu dedicated to spread the message of Paramacharya of Kanchi
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2 Responses to The man who leaked too much – Aditya Sinha (An editor who does not even know who Saikat Datta, his correspondent is)

  1. Raman says:

    Yes.I fully endorse the view of the editor of DNA.There can be no other person who has got most benefit than Manmohan Singh esp. the name of Rahul is making rounds all the time and even some of his cabinet colleagues wished to remove him and install Rahul at the earliest as nobody knows what will happen in the next Lok Sabha elections.So it is better to appoint Rahul as PM as Sonia is also physically ill
    and her future is anybody’s guess.So if some turmoil is created then Manmohan can expect to continue as PM.So he may not have leaked the letter but somebodywho is interested in him to continue for some more time must have leaked as it is quite possible that the leak shuld be only from PMO office as the leak of the latter of Pranab to Manmohan which created hell.Manmohan is power hungry person though outwardly he remains silent in Parliament always as a sad man but he is clever to hang on with his post in a nice way.There can be no other possibility.In this way he can put Antony who is known for incompetency in any capacity whether in his state of Kerala or Centre can be made scapegoat easily.Antony who does not have the guts to take any decisions and always prefer to procratinate decisions till breaking point.So Manmohan can laugh all the way while pretending to be a honest man of Sonia.Great guess though can be true also.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I totally disagree with the view of the Editor-in-chief of DNA, as his logic is flawed, speculative, and does not really leads to the conclusion he is suggesting. However, I may agree with this approach of finding the truth. He has done a listing of the people who are highly likely to be involved in this incident. Without going much into the details I suggest that the following three people are most likely to be involved and Manmohan Singh is highly unlikely to be involved. The reason is as follows:
    Manhoma is an academician or at least he has academic background. Those who understand behaviour of social scientists, particularly those academicians who are above 60, they will tell you one thing, old academicians never take initiatives; they rather wait, watch, evaluate and then sometimes take action, otherwise in most of the cases let things happen. They are used to of unexpected results to nothing bothers them much. Furthermore, because they are not seasoned politicians so they don’t really put too much pressure on playing politics. And this works in their favour because most politicians fight out among themselves and end up losing key posts to less political persons, as it happened in the case of Manmohan. Being elected twice there is little incentive for him to be adventurous at this age. So the guess of the Editor-in-chief that Manmohan Singh might have leaked the paper is not correct based on the above argument. But Manmohan Singh might have leaked the paper for the reason he did in the case of 2G scam and some other serious matters of national interest. For the simple and genuine reason he wants to see his country free from corruption, at least this desire at the end stage of one’s life is quite understandable. This is the least he can do as a non-politician, as it would have been much difficult for him to fight it out within the party. But if this is the case then we all should feel happy about him. But again the chances of I happening is very low. So the overall assessment is that Manmohan Singh is not the person, or I can say highly unlikely to be the person who leaked the letter.

    So who could be the real culprit? Follow up in the next letter….
    Message from the ….real…

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