It has not affected either the image of the Army or its work
Asserting that the issue of determination of his year of birth was a matter of “integrity and honour,” the Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh, on Thursday underscored it was raised in the interest of the organisation.
“It has always been [an issue] of integrity and honour… right from the time the issue came to the forefront, it has always been taken up in organisational interest…,'' the Army Chief emphasised two days after he insisted the issue was a “purely personal matter.”
Interacting with journalists ahead of the January 15 Army Day, Gen. Singh said both media and he were aware of the people creating the controversy, the spate of reports including the spiel around statements, correspondence, including ‘top secret' documents on it doing the rounds in the corridors of power in Delhi. Yet he parried questions about the options being explored and refused to take any questions on it stating there was no point in vitiating the atmosphere.
On speculation that he would choose to put in his papers after the government rejected his statutory complaint last month, in an open-ended response the Chief said: “Leave it to my judgment. What I want to do and… decide to take some action [would be] after I get time to think about myself.”
While insisting that the issue did not affect either the image of the Army, its work or relations with the Defence Ministry, Gen. Singh said it did cause concern in his own family.
With Gen. Singh contending that his year of birth be treated as May 10, 1951 and not a year early as has been determined when the government gave him the last three promotions, the controversy has been stoked periodically over the last few months.
In case the government concedes to make the change, Gen. Singh should get a 10-month extension for, otherwise, he should retire in May this year on turning 62. The Army Chief has a fixed tenure of three years or until the age of 62 whichever comes earlier.
That should also affect his successor for, if Gen. Singh hangs up his boots in May this year, Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh will be the front-runner to replace him; otherwise an extended tenure should catapult Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik to the top post.
Gen. Singh also refrained from answering questions on reports of the possible involvement of Gen. Bikram Singh in an alleged fake encounter a decade ago.