Sort out trust deficit with army, BJP tells government
New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday sought a 'proactive' role by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in resolving the 'rising trust deficit' between the army and the government.
Reacting after The Indian Express reported the movement of army units towards Delhi in January without informing the defence ministry, the BJP also sought the ouster of Defence Minister A.K. Antony over the recent episodes.
The Congress meanwhile accused the newspaper of 'sensationalising' the issue, as the government denied the reports.
'The relationship between the army and political leadership of the country is at an all time low...its a matter of very deep concern,' BJP general secretary and national spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said here.
'The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) has messed up a whole lot of things in governance because of incapacity of leadership, governance deficit and a whole range of confusion...even army has become a victim of that. The balance between the army and the government needs to be re-established with respect,' he said.
The BJP expressed satisfaction over the prime minister's statement on the issue in the morning and said, the 'prime minister has spoken after long, we expect that the prime minister will take a proactive role and this issue must be sorted'.
'We have been assured by the fact that both the government and the army have very strongly rejected this report,' Prasad said, adding that 'the armed forces are one of the most important institutions of the country... We must ensure, that there is no room for nor any apprehension or any sponsored story'.
Speaking earlier, another BJP leader Balbir Punj said there was a trust deficit between the government and the army and sought the ouster of the defence minister.
'Defence Minister A.K. Antony must quit immediately because of his sheer inefficiency and inaction or the prime minister must sack him as nothing else can redeem the situation,' he said.
The Congress supported the government view that reports of an alleged coup attempt by two Army units were baseless and said media should refrain from sensationalising news related to defence forces.
'The defence ministry has clarified and denied the report which is absolutely baseless...the Indian Express has tried to sensationlise the news which is not proper,' Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told IANS.
'The media should be very careful as far as the army is concerned and should not sensationalise news,' he said.
Another Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu SInghvi said 'no fact has justified such speculation'.
The Indian Express said in a front page report that the Hisar-based Mechanised Infantry and elements from a unit of the airborne 50 Para Brigade based in Agra had moved towards the capital.
It said the movement took place on the night of Jan 16, without following the standard operating procedure of informing the defence ministry in advance.
It said since this happened around the time when army chief Gen. V.K. Singh was waging a judicial battle against the government over his age row, it created unease and suspicion in Delhi.
The report has been rejected as baseless by the prime minister and defence minister.
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