'Patrakar ko hamesha vipaksh mein baithna chahiye.'
The relationship between the media and politicians is almost always a tenuous one. If it isn't, then there's something seriously wrong. Clearly, General VK Singh and some sections of the media don't seem to have much love lost for each other. This latest bout of verbal barbs seems to have stemmed from the General's rather sarcastic, what he thought was humorous comment about 'the evacuation of Indians in Yemen being less exciting than visiting the Pakistan High Commission.' Clearly, there was something tongue in cheek about this comment. Some sections of the media went to town berating the General without being able to step back and take it all in good humour.
But it didn't stop there. Then the General went a step further using Twitter (his chosen medium of verbal rants) to call those very same sections of the media 'presstitutes'. This is clearly not the kind of language you expect from a former Army Chief on a public platform like Twitter. Not to say of the language you should expect from a sitting Union Minister. That General Singh hasn't taken to his new job as a diplomat is no secret in South Block. Why do you think he's away marshalling his forces in one of the biggest evacuation efforts in Yemen. This is what career military men like to do. Act decisively, talk blunt. And that's in sharp contrast to what diplomats have to do which is often to walk a fine line, curve out the edges and find a compromise where none exists.
If the General is not fit for the job, then it is in his interest and the in the interest of the government that he be removed. If not, send him to some other ministry where he enjoys the job. Either the General voluntarily recuses himself from this job and asks for some other 'suitable' posting or the Prime Minister has to step in. Why not create a separate Ministry for disaster relief and rescue operations? A ministry that will closely co-ordinate with the NDRF and the Armed forces in cases of floods and wars. Given how he has spent almost two weeks now in Yemen, the General seems to enjoy this job more than ribbon-cutting, photo-ops and book launches.
At the same time is the media free of all guilt? Of course not. I'd be the first one to concede that. Some folks in our news TV need to learn to take a chill pill. Not every comment made by a Union Minister needs to be outraged and spewed venom at. Sometimes they are innocuous, sometimes caustic, sometimes sarcastic. In this age of social media, if traditional media don't realise that the joke's on them, then sooner or later they are going to become a joke.
I wouldn't see this controversy end anytime soon given the rumbustious nature of our media, especially television. There's a lot of talk about an imminent cabinet reshuffle. Already, many a Union Minister has already made a case for being shipped out of the government. Giriraj Singh, Smriti Irani. Now add General VK Singh to that list.
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