Shortly before General Bipin Rawat took over as the Chief of Indian Army, Eastern Army Commander Lt General Praveen Bakshi, whose seniority was superseded in the appointment, addressed his troops on 31 December 2016, in what was a remarkably candid speech.
The half-hour-long speech was anticipated, since a tradition of appointing the senior-most army commander as chief of army was broken with the government appointing General Rawat, an infantry soldier, for the post. In his speech, Lt Gen Bakshi called the change a “political decision”.
Further, far from offering his resignation, Lt Gen Bakshi had said “it will be work as usual”, in his address. But certain sections of his speech, the transcript of which has been accessed by India Today, raised a few eyebrows within the army.
In his address, Lt General Bakshi alluded to certain “men in shadows” who had attempted to run a “malicious campaign” against him by sending “anonymous letters” to tarnish his reputation as a commander.
We are all aware of anonymous letters, I get lots of anonymous letters during my command but here, all these anonymous letters were not against self-aggrievement (sic) against anyone been personally subjected to any adverse situation.
Instead, it was all to malign my name. The letter which I have led me to believe that there was somebody from my command who was talking, who was giving information, lending credence to the information, assisting them. In fact, this letter is dated somewhere around the 29th of June, but since they did not know the facts, they tended to make things up, and that is where they tended to make mistakes.
He said that he decided to stay instead of resigning, which is what he said most people expected of him. He said resigning would entail that he is running away from the accusations despite being blameless. He indicated that he would expose those who had been allegedly trying to damage his reputation.
But why I am not resigning is because I want to get to the bottom of who was behind this whatever seeds of doubt are lingering in whosoever’s minds have to be clarified. By resigning, I will be running away (from the accusations) and that is not in me. How can I be your army commander if I were to run away for no personal fault of me? I have a clear heart, I can look you in the eye and I am going to get to the bottom of this, of whoever it was, so that, the reputation of the Indian Army as viewed by anyone else outside the Indian Army, remains intact.
At the highest level, if somebody’s reputation is being smeared in this manner and he is expected to keep quiet, that is the reason I am not resigning... I read somewhere about ‘men in shadows’. I don’t think, we in the Indian Army who have been trained to fight our enemies can allow such people to survive in our own organisation... they need to be exposed and that is why I shall continue though I shall be on leave, for the foreseeable future.
Lt General Bakshi also spoke of the expenditure in the Eastern Command under his predecessors (Lt Generals VK Singh, Bikram Singh and Dalbir Singh, all of whom went on to become army chiefs) as averaging only Rs 3-4 crore as opposed to Rs 85 crore spent under him in the past 18 months.
Some senior army officials had told india Today that a few anonymous letters about Lt General Bakshi had found their way to the hands of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, which is why his meeting with the minister raised a fair amount of curiosity. Bakshi said that no favours were sought or promised in his meeting with Parrikar.
The defence secretary spoke to me and mentioned that the honourable Raksha Mantri would like to speak to me and I called on the Raksha Mantri, and we had a very good one-on-one with nobody else.
(Source: India Today)