May 31, 2020
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The Coup Express

My favourite line in the coup story is "the PM was informed at the crack of dawn on January 17"

The Coup Express

A coup in India! I was truly excited. Finally we could tell the Pakistanis, the Bangladeshis, the Nepalis, the Sri Lankans, that hey we just had one of our own but no one found out about it for well over two months till a newspaper that only practices journalism of courage discovered what had happened. And once they found out, boy, they didn't waste any time or newsprint in letting the world know. They printed the story of the coup across the entire front page with a triple-decker headline and a triple-decker byline! What a splash.

As a journalist I am absolutely thrilled. I can confess now that all those chaps in the Congress and BJP were beginning to bore me. But there's no chance of any boredom with a coup. I can play around with words like coup d'etat and putsch. Military chaps who organise coups in places like Ecuador, Fiji, Congo and Togo, look quite impressive. Now that we have been reliably informed that it also happened in Najafgarh on the outskirts of Delhi, I have a vision of interviewing a big strong general with medals all over his chest and asking him what he thinks about Anna Hazare.

I must immediately start developing contacts in Army HQ. I am quite fascinated by all those military chaps on TV these days and I never realised they spoke such good English. They also use lovely words like morale and national interest. Of course I would have to find out where HQ is located but saying the word HQ itself is quite thrilling.

Reminds me of Pakistan where I've made three trips and each time managed a great assignment. I remember travelling with Nawaz Sharif and he would talk about how much he loved India and Hindi films and then a shadow would cross his face and he would mutter a complaint about HQ. Later when HQ despatched him out of the country, I realised why.

But our Indian HQ will be different. I'm dead sure it will be leaking stories all the time. Scams about defence deals, fighter jets, dirty trucks, the mind boggles at the possibility of the stories I could get. I'll just stop going to 24 Akbar Road or 9 Ashoka Road and park myself outside Army House. In any case it's high time some tough military guys knocked some sense into our politicians.

My favourite line in the coup story is "the PM was informed at the crack of dawn on January 17." I can imagine Manmohan Singh, hurriedly getting out of bed, tying his turban, getting ready to confront an army brigade! Yet I am of the view that Race Cource Road is not an appropriate address for a military leader. The Army Chief should move into Rashtrapati Bhawan and take on the title of president. As it is, President Pratibha Patil's term is coming to an end and there is so much confusion that it will be hard to find another president. Now that a coup has taken place, we don't have to bother.

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