NEW DELHI: The already strained relation between the Army Chief and the Ministry of Defence worsened further on Wednesday as a letter written by General V K Singh to the Prime Minister recently, damning the Army’s preparedness, was published by a Mumbai-based English newspaper.
The establishment and political parties alike pointed fingers at the Army Chief’s office for the leakage—a charge hard to prove—and the imbroglio seemed headed for a knock-out round as Defence Minister A K Antony left the decision to the Prime Minister’s Office, amid growing calls for immediate action against General Singh.
Parliament was rocked for a second day in succession and censure against the Army Chief grew, cutting across political lines. An otherwise reticent Antony made a statement in the Rajya Sabha for the second consecutive day and said: “These issues are being examined in the Ministry of Defence. By their very nature such issues cannot form the subject of public debate. Publishing the contents of secret communications within Government cannot serve our national security.”
Taking a serious view of the letter (written on March 12, 2012) getting into the hands of the media, Antony said, “I have made a serious note of the observations. After consulting the Prime Ministe­r and colleagues, we will take appropriate action.” Senior defence ministry officials said the matter has gone beyond the MoD’s purview and a decision will now come only from the PMO.
Opposition party BJP criticised the Army Chief for writing to the PM rather than handling the matter of the force’s modernisation with “deftness”. The timing of General Singh’s scathing letter and of his bribery allegations, coming at the end of his two-year tenure, raised doubts among many.
Even as political parties demanded action against General Singh “within hours and not days”, a decision is unlikely soon as heads of several countries including China are in the country to attend the BRICS summit. General Singh, meanwhile, is on an official visit to Srinag­ar, and is yet to submit a written complaint to the CBI on the bribery charges.