NEW DELHI: Army Chief General VK Singh is expected to send a written reply to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with his bribery allegation. The General has claimed that he was offered Rs 14 crore to clear the purchase of sub-standard military vehicles. He has already told the CBI that he has solid evidence to back his claim.
Sources say that once the central probe agency receives his reply, it may file two FIRs - one to probe the bribery allegations and the second to probe the alleged irregularities in the deal and the people involved.
Defence Minister AK Antony who ordered a CBI probe has ruled out any action against the Army Chief, saying he enjoys his full confidence, but has promised the 'strongest action' against those responsible for the leak of his letter to the Prime Minister claiming discrepancies in the Army infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the Army Chief is facing a divided opinion among bureaucrats, diplomats and the armed forces. While former diplomats and bureaucrats have questioned the timing of the Army Chief's revelations, Armymen believe an honest man is being targeted.
Indian diplomat KC Singh questioned, "Why was it not shaken in a year and a half? Honesty is not something that is selectively adopted." "He is neither a hero nor a villian, I think he is a loose cannon. After the Supreme Court row, I had come on the television saying let's put it all thing behind us and let the General honourably retire," he added.
Retired IAS officer Shailaja Chandra said, "I agree with KC Singh that the timing that the General appears to have chosen is suspicious."
Former Navy Chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, on the other hand, defended General Singh and said, "Why are these things being thrust on the Chief? Because he is an honest man? Because he is cleaning up the system?"
The political class also appears to be divided on the issue. While a section of the political fraternity is demanding that the General be sacked, the BJP is calling it a matter of governance and blaming the UPA's lack of state craft to deal issues of this nature.
Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh said, "I don't think the Defence Minister's only reaction ought to have been to his hold his head in his hand. It should have been equally outright and he should immediately have taken an appropriate action."
The Army Chief hit back hard and strong. In a statement issued by the Army Headquarters on Thursday, General VK Singh said, "The leakage of the letter to the Prime Minister should be treated as high treason. Cynical approach to tarnish my reputation should stop. Source of the leakage should be found and dealt with ruthlessly."