From 'Dog' Remark To Cheerleading Trolls: The Embarrassing Shenanigans Of V.K. Singh

23/10/2015 5:45 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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SRINAGAR, INDIA - NOVEMBER 15: Minister of State for External Affairs Gen VK Singh addressing a press briefing on November 15, 2014 in Srinagar, India. VK Singh said the BJP stands for a relook at article 370 that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir but it never sought its abrogation or amendment. (Photos by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Union Minister V.K. Singh's latest "dog" remark was so vile that most people, irrespective of their political convictions and party loyalties, were appalled.

While Jitender, a young Dalit man in Haryana, is struggling to process the death of his baby girl and his two-year-old son, Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and a former army chief, chose to focus on how the Bharatiya Janata Party government is not responsible for this man's grief.

Dismissive of the outrage over his remarks, Singh touted how - "my men and I put our lives on the line for the nation irrespective of caste, creed & religion" - suggesting perhaps that serving one's nation gives one more bandwidth for doing wrong without being held accountable.

And Singh has done wrong, hurt the sentiments of many of his fellow citizens, and repeatedly displayed contempt for the media.

READ: VK Singh's Metaphor Takes BJP's Image To The Dogs

On Thursday, Singh said that the government should not be blamed for the death of two Dalit children as a consequence of intercaste violence in Haryana, in the same vein as the government is not responsible if "someone throws stones at a dog." “The government is not to blame if someone throws stones at a dog," he said.

Instead of apologising or issuing a retraction, a step worthy of someone who has put his life on the line, Singh lashed out at journalists for misinterpreting his remark, and suggested they get treatment at the Agra Mental Health Institute.

Credit for popularising one of the most derisive terms used by trolls on social media also goes to Singh.

After the media latched on to his bizarre remark about how a rescue operation in Yemen was less exciting than his visit to the Pakistan embassy in Delhi, earlier this year, Singh dubbed journalists as "presstitutes."

This term has now become a regular feature on the comments section of news websites and blogs - a pithy insult used against reporters, who write a story or express an opinion, which may not be everyone's cup of tea.

READ: Two Dalit Children Burnt Alive In Inter-Caste Violence In Haryana

The army man-turned politician also courted controversies before his time with the BJP.

Last year, army officials, who have houses in the Adarsh Housing Society, spoke out against Singh for the first time, accusing him of knowing fully well that the land on which the society is built did not belong to the army. They alleged that Singh had still provided false information to former Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

"In nearly two months when he (Gen V.K. Singh) assumed office of the Army chief, he had all the information (regarding Adarsh). He had information from the director of defence estates and legal opinion of former Maharashtra Advocate General Darius Khambatta on Adarsh. He also knew that the land on which the society stands doesn't belong to the Defence ministry. Yet he told Defence minister A.K. Antony that the land belongs to Defence and subsequently led to Antony ordering a CBI investigation into the society," Major General (Retired) A.R. Kumar said in December, 2014.

A few years earlier, Singh was caught in an embarrassing wrangle about his age.

While Singh insisted that he was born in 1951, which would allow him to continue leading one of the world's largest armies till March 31, 2013, Ministry of Defence records showed that he was born in 1950. Eventually, the Supreme Court refused his petition to alter his age from May 10, 1950 to May 10, 1951, forcing him to retire.

Justices R.M. Lodha and H.L. Gokhale also made it clear that they didn't like Singh's attempt to get his age changed at the end of his career.

"You had reconciled to the position that for service your date of birth is 1950. Having given that commitment, it does not befit a meritorious officer like you to take such a stand at the fag end of the (sic) career. May be it is an unfortunate happening or destiny, but you accepted the date of birth as 1950," they wrote.

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