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Updated: March 28, 2012 19:58 IST

BJP asks govt. to clear air on Army chief’s letter to Prime Minister

PTI
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Army Chief General V.K. Singh talks to the media in New Delhi. File photo
Army Chief General V.K. Singh talks to the media in New Delhi. File photo

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today asked the government to clear the air in Parliament over the controversy arising out of the Army Chief’s letter to the Prime Minister, saying the country’s defence preparedness was “suffering” because of the Centre’s “indecision”.

Noting that the Army Chief’s letter has pointed out “the indecision on part of Government”, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said, “Our defence is suffering because of indecision and that is what we condemn.”

“It becomes more serious when the Army chief himself tells that the situation is worsening day by day,” he said.

The letter has revealed that there was “no procurement, no modernisation, no sufficient equipment. Funds are lying unutilized and this situation is precarious,” Mr. Javadekar said.

The Rajya Sabha MP said the letter was not a new one and he had referred to it during a recent speech in Parliament.

“The letter written by V. K. Singh is not a new letter and I referred this letter in my speech during the (debate on) Motion of Thanks on the President’s address,” he told reporters outside Parliament House.

The Army Chief has reportedly contended in the letter that the entire tank fleet is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”, the air defence is “97 per cent obsolete” and the infantry is crippled with “deficiencies of crew served weapon” and lacks “night fighting” capabilities.

‘Equilibrium disturbed’

The party said the incident also shows that the equilibrium between the Defence Ministry and the Army has been disturbed” and pitched for modernisation of the forces which appear to have suffered.

“The contents of the Army chief’s letter are scary. When the common man reads that the defence forces have no ammunition and cannot defend the country he finds it scary,” Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters.

The party was equally critical of the Army chief for not pursuing the bribe offer case and writing a letter to the Prime Minister on the state of affairs in the Army as well as Defence Minister A. K. Antony for not handling these issues - including the need for modernisation — with deftness.

“The decision to write a letter is always fraught with the possibility, even if one per cent, that it may be leaked at some point in time,” Ms. Swaraj said, criticising the Army chief.

She also wondered why Gen. V. K. Singh had not immediately got the officer, who offered him Rs.14 crore bribe, arrested.

BJP is also of the opinion that writing such a letter to the PM is a “breach of discipline”. It expressed its ire at the differences between the ministry and the Army.

'Serious and sensitive issue'

BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister should explain what steps have been taken to tackle the situation.

“This is a serious and sensitive issue. It will affect the morale of the armed forces. Now the secret letter has been made public so we want the government should take Parliament into confidence and PM and Defence Minister should tell what follow-up actions have been taken to control the situation,” Mr. Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.

Mr. Naidu said it is unfortunate that until the issue becomes public, government does not take any step. “PM should come to the House and tell the people what action has been taken on it.”

Expressing concern over the armed forces’ preparedness, he said, “Government should reassure the nation about the urgent steps taken by it and come forward with facts and figures about the state of affairs in armed forces. We cannot blame anybody as we are more concerned about the preparedness of the country.”

His colleague Tarun Vijay blamed the government for maintaining a stony silence on the issue. “We demand that government give complete details of all ‘murky’ affairs that are happening in the Defence Ministry.”

Mr. Vijay said, “It is not the way to run the government because the whole episode is affecting the morale of the armed forces. The soldiers are fighting the enemy at the front and political masters are in ‘murky’ deals... this is affecting morale of the nation.”

On the question of leakage of the secret letter, he asked “who is benefiting from the leakage. Is this the way the government is dealing with secrecy of the nation?”

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The Exposure of Army Chief Letter to PM is like Two Laddu's you want
to eat at one time, then its the time for OUR NEIGHBOURLY FRIENDS
PAKISTAN & CHINA. Are you people listening to it about the good
chances.

This is the poor state of Indian Politics & its corruption. World is
laughing on us. Poor Jawans, GOD bless for your courage & patriotism don't get diverted or loose your heart. WE the people are with you.
Media should expose the corruption in big way thereby serving the
people and protecting the country.

from:  B.N.DHARMENDRA
Posted on: Mar 29, 2012 at 13:31 IST

I am surprised to the demands of so many people for the dismissal of VK Singh. That he wrote a letter to the PM is being made such a big issue. What is wrong in writing to the PM? Why are we so concerned about 'protocols'? The country is in danger. In such a case, one can and has to write to even the President, why just the PM? Look the issue on hand. It is serious. Even if there is just 1% truth in what VK Singh says, we are doomed. How can there be corruption in the Army?

from:  Koushik Varaghur
Posted on: Mar 29, 2012 at 10:45 IST

Has any one asked Gen VK as to who has leaked the letter to media ????? Everyone has unilaterally decided that the letter has been leaked by Gen VK or army.....even without a statement from Gen VK or army....why?? Till now not even a letter has been leaked by army to media...as letters are leaked by MoD or babus in PMO/MoD....has anyone asked them, before deciding to sack COAS ....why ? Because ......army chief is man of integrity and honour. he has the courage to bring before the nation about ' who is who ' in the defence establishment. it's wrong to say that he has brought sensitive matter before the public. Bcause....whatever he has done is absolutely right as an upright soldier, who is duty bound to protect the nation. Because.... he has shown he is a 'man of honour' and he cannot simply sit down and allow dirty things to happen. normally people just don't care!! and are just doing their jobs for sake of money. they collect their money and go home.

from:  TONY
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 23:35 IST

The army chief is entitled to write directly to the PM - no questioning of "by passing" the Defence Minister. People feel he should be dismissed for his actions - what actions exactly? exposing corruption? Bringing out how he was blackmailed about his age issue? Dismissing corrupt generals? The Chief has been victimised from Day 1 - even before he became Chief he was asked - UNPRECENDENTLY - to commit never to raising his age issue ever in the future, or he would not be promoted!!!Blackmail to get your due rank? Why has this not been condemed by people or the Press? This proves the malafide intentions and future machinations for the next Chief so early on! General Singh is an inconvenient Chief no doubt - he has a conscience, his integrity is without question, he does not buy the carrots dangled in front of him after he retires..... yes, being dismissed is the only option left!!! But..... no way will this happen, guys, because then, the next Chief cant be General Bikram Singh!!!!!

from:  shailaja khanna
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 23:35 IST

Even after the date of birth issue and the alleged offer of bribe, one would have had soft corner for the Army Chief & his friends. BUT, the revelation of his letter to PM in public domain has made him lose respect. It is one of the days when we Indians feel ashamed.

from:  vc sekar
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 23:06 IST

Those are calling for the head of General singh are the real culprits
because either they are supporting the traitor or whose disguise
traitors are playing the game.It is very much in part of charter of
duty of the General to approach/brief the PM.Although letter
revelation is sad part but thing is that many chiefs had briefed PM
about all these and nothing has happened,might be after revelation to
the whole nation propel policy makers to seriously pluck the whole
issue.General has done right thing to unravel all.

from:  ALOK KUMAR
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:59 IST

for obvious reasons, the ministry of defence is the most corrupt dept.
and the lobbying which is carried out to shave off the taxpayers
hardearned money, is a big big question mark towards the integrity of
nationalist views of our govt. hope it dosent switch sides during wars!

from:  Akhilkumar Jadhav
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:58 IST

The real issue is whether corruption has weakened Army preparedness
and compromised the nation's security. It's silly and dangerous to
only discuss who leaked Gen. V.K. Singh's letter to the PM (remember,
we still don't know who leaked the Radia Tapes!). Were the contents of
this letter acted upon by the PM so far? It's infinitely more
important to have the alacrity, integrity and intelligence to confirm
if what the letter conveys is true, rather than posturing like
headless chicken! Shooting the messenger is downright stupid, but that
is what our politicians do to save their skins!

from:  Vinod Kumar B.
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:54 IST

someone said: why can't the general keep his mouth shut until after the BRICs summit. I say: The country is more permanent than the groups. Today you are third world tromorrow you are brick so its not everlasting. It's not permanent. but the country and our identity is. BRIC or no BRIC, G-8 or no G-8 the country would remain. the country comes first. And once we have established it as fully functional country then all these groups will come back with invitation cards to join them.

from:  Kumaran Abhishek
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:54 IST

At least one truthful Chief has got the guts to stand up and say the truth,elsewise he could have easily kept quiet and made enough money to enjoy his retirement.hats off to his guts that he has stood up as his conscience is still alive.The govt.and MOD is full of corrupt people who will not let a honest man function as it affects their share.

from:  JD Singh
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:28 IST

This man had the spine. In this case the reason may be personal. For all
those who blame Mr. Singh when was the last time you did anything about
corruption?

from:  krao
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:25 IST

This sounds close to what was happening when Krishna Menon was in charge of defense and China invaded India. They were making espresso coffee machines instead of tanks! Nothing has changed ......What a disaster.

from:  Ramkishin Samat
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:18 IST

There is the knee jerk reaction all around in questioning the messenger (the General). The pertinent questions are: (a) What force caused Mr. Antony to remain silent regarding the bribe offer? Clearly, the general cannot do much without full support of the Defense minister; (b)What force caused the Supreme Court to first side with the General (finding the Govt.'s action as 'vitiated') and then change track within a week? (c) What force is supporting Lt. Gen. (retd.) Tejinder that even COAS and Mr. Antony could not take immidiate action? (d) What force (over and above Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh) is forcing the general's retirement / removal? The answers may lie in 'Who Benefits'? Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh will be a minion. The investigation should be based on who has the financial stakes. Shooting the messenger (i.e. the General) for perceived protocol violation is silly. We should expect more skeletons to drop out. We have twin issues: (i) Corruption and (ii) non performance galore.

from:  Dr. Ajay
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 22:08 IST

Leave all this blame game aside. God forbid, now what if neighbours
take advantage of this situation and try to redefine their boundaries
? I am not saying we are totally weaponless. But compared to at least
one neighbour we are well lagging behind.

I think all the politicians must be given free and obligatory 1-month
training in Chanakya Rajnithi sutras. Guys forgot what to say where,
which thing to keep confidential, etc. Very very pathetic situation.
This shows how incapable our administrators are growing day by day.

One sincere suggestion to The Hindu - making the scams public is
alright. But think twice before publicising many issues which our
administrators may not know how to deal with. One more incident that
comes to my mind is the Chennai bank robbery case. Let us admit that
the police have gone bonkers and announced that daughter of house
owner gave robbers details. Why should The Hindu give additional
publicity to it ? Let others do it but not most respected The Hindu.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 21:55 IST

Gen Singh has no buisness of writing a letter directly to PM. In fact he alone is responsible for the state of army as he is the army commander and cannot shrink away from the responsibility. Think about the morale of the great indian army. It is sad that being their chief, he has raised all irrelevant issues rather than building capability.The leakage may be to help the next benificiary, who will become chief in lieu of the appointed one. The government must weigh all options before taking any step of removal.

from:  amit
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 21:48 IST

This country is going to pay a high price for the corruption sooner or later.Credibility of India is lost in the eye of the world. This is not middle ages,with the availability of modern technology no body can hide any thing any more.National security cannot be compromised. This is high time to change the laws;we are embracing the old system in order to protect the MPs,MLAs,and and the civil servants.None of our politicians have any ethics(except a few)but their hands are tied.

from:  T Paul
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 21:35 IST

In this war between the Army chief and the MOD, truth is the first casualty. The real test of how well prepared our country is with our armaments and equipment will only be known if there is another war with our neighbours like Pakistan or China.The M.O.D has become a hotbed of corruption with secret deals been made only to benefit Foreign arms manufacturers, arms dealers and their middle men and politicians getting a cut in each deal at a huge cost to the ex-chequer and getting substandard and low quality equipments without proper spares or maintainence.I doubt the truth will ever come out and this news will be get buried in the dust after a few months.

from:  Ram
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 20:59 IST

General VK Singh is at such a high post, If this is happening with him then what will happen to common man who does not even have any power. Corruption is rampant problem in this country and is a milestone in country's progress.

from:  reetu sharma
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 20:56 IST

Mr. Singh seems to be taking revenge on the civil government for
defeating his efforts to prolong his term of service by changing the
date of birth. Such interference in the civil government by the army
chief is not good for the country and the opposition should not play
with. The army chief may be bitter, but his personal problems should not
be allowed to adversely affect the future of the nation.

from:  Rafa
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 20:23 IST

Like many institutions in india, corruption has taken toll on the army too. I personally know incidences where 2 of people from my place got job by bribing officers in army.I happened to meet one of them last week.He was telling the sorry state of affairs inside the army. The low grade officers are well aware of the corruption at all levels - from food procurement to arms deals.But there is no redressal mechanisms available for them. The feudal system within the organisation and lack of transparency is making the army weak.

from:  ruchitha
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 20:21 IST

I am not sure what Mr. V. K. Singh was doing these days? Why this issue is not projected to the public earlier? Why this is elevated before 2 months of his retirement? When the chief of the Army says that there is a dearth in our capabilities in handling a real time situation, this is a shame to the nation. How are the watchdogs to evaluate whether the funds are utilized in a genuine manner? What will our neighboring countries will think about us after reading this news? This is a blot to the country and PM need to address this at the earliest.

from:  Anand Babu S
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 20:20 IST

Is he an army chief or an agent? There is just a month and half for his retirement and he is exposing to the world that the army is ill equipped? Why he did not do that 2 years back? He choose the time for such exposures when Chinese premier is about to visit the country. He should be sacked immediately. The government installed a wrong person at a right place. Moreover, all future defence purchases must be made on transparent mode.

from:  soman sreedharan
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 20:13 IST

It comes under gross indiscipline at the part of General VK singh , writing a letter to the PM of India directly (by-passing MOD) & for such an act of him, he himself should say good-bye to his post/job or if not going this to happen, then General VK Singh , ought to be dismissed , so that Army's head is held high . After independence, perhaps India not seen/witnessed such an indisciplined Army Chief as of V K Singh .

from:  ds meena
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 19:46 IST

it is bad that a classified letter is leaked. that shows that there is a mole either in general's office or in pmo, whichever it is, it is bad. secondly there seems to be no need for the general to write a letter to pm as at the time of his retirement (as is the case of any transfer promotion etc.)the general is to make a detailed handing over note to his successor with a copy to his superior where he could have mentioned all these in general and made a separate secret note about sensitive issues and followed the procedure for such things, for which there are certain laid down procedures which every bureaucrat follows!!!!!

from:  N Ramaswami, irps
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 19:36 IST

Why on earth everyone is pointing on the Army chief, as a soldier of the
country he has pressed the panic button stating that the security of the
whole nation is at stake, now it's up to the house of commons to make
some good action rather making just noise.

from:  Ganapathi
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 19:35 IST

Kargil War has exposed the deficiency in armaments of our armed forces. We started procuring the right weapons and ammunition after the enemy has occupied our forward posts. Even after that, it was the extraordinary valor and self-sacrifice of brave soldiers that got our territories liberated. Mumbai massacre has exposed that the naval commandos had not even got night vision equipment in tackling the terrorists in Taj Hotel. Unfortunately, We have not learnt any lessons.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 19:24 IST

How armyman can follow the government if there is gross violation of discipline on govt side? Whatever is going in the Army is shameful. Army and Supreme court are the most revered organisation in India. Indians respect armed forces and Supreme court more than Parliament. Common man is more sensitive to defense of nation matter than corruption and do not want to compromise on this issue. Most debatable issue should be modernization of armed forces and not the DOB and so called bribe issue. Bribe issue should have been dealt by AK Antony with iron hand. However he did not act even 1 billion people general VKsing refereed the matter. When executive fail to perform its duty then other organ of system may take over share in power of executive that happen in many cases.The SC is equally
active with Government and this is not fault of its as executive are
inactive. If government not become active, army will have no option
but to take over the power. Be active and save democracy.

from:  Atul Warhekar
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 19:16 IST

When there is an inferno, first and foremost, it should be doused promptly. Thereafter only, what caused the inferno should be determined.

from:  KS Raghunathan
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 18:44 IST

It is bad that the institution which is known for its discipline, suffering with major issues, corruptions etc...This whole drama is affecting the morale of our Army and also points out the weakness of our present govt. inability to sort out internal issues in a mannered way. Now every political leader is very conscious about morale of army but what about morale of whole Indian citizens? Will this not affect morale of an Indian citizen where major scams are happening every day. This govt. is just a failure. Politics decide the future of the country..But we Don't know where we are going?

from:  Praveen Solanki
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 18:40 IST

It is time General V. K. Singh is dismissed from his post with immediate effect. He has done enough damage to the very institution that he is heading.

from:  Rajiv Kumar
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 18:39 IST

clear air of what i wonder?!

from:  Shashank Sane
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 18:27 IST

These are the facts whether one likes it or not: 1.There is endemic corruption in the M.O.D.India is the largest importer of arms in the world. This translates to huge stakes for potential suppliers and huge pay-offs for supplier/middlemen/politician nexus. 2.General V.K.Singh stands against this nexus.He was also instrumental in exposing the Sukhna Land scam and he was against the Adarsh scam.Lt Gen.Tejinder Singh has also got a stake in the Adarsh Land scam. 3.General V.K.Singh had called for open tendering and a transparent bidding process.This directly challenged the monopoly control by some suppliers like TATRA who supply trucks and whose truck jack alone costs Rs 30,000/-. This is simply the cost of corruption padded up to the actual cost and ultimately borne by the Indian taxpayer while the padded costs go to a select few. 4.When the mafia/nexus realized that General V.K.Singh could not be shaken,they tried co-opting him by sending one of their minions in the form of Tejinder.

from:  RM
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 18:19 IST

Is this not the nation who shamelessly boasts always to be the next
'Super Power'? Who else than it's Army Chief need to say,it is not
even anywhere near to that 'Reality'? Now anybody would understand,why
so much money and prominence are given to the nations 'Two' Annual
parade days security,since many defense equipment seems to be fit,only
for such shows.Hence for those sheep's, whom always believed in the
strength of their 'Shepherd' with which they think and boast that the
neighbors could be captured within a fracture of second ,please
understand, it will be only a 'Dream' or like a 'Myth'. Hope whoever
it is,got the point?

from:  Muhamed Riyaz
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 18:04 IST

There is saying in Tamil "tiger ate the goat, then the cow and now the people". The turn of this episode has reached a nasty centre stage. Our almighty politicians with obvious(notorious) credibility of honesty in public life now started an open confrontation with Army Chief. The inept UPA Govt must awake and stop the confronting attitude and cover-ups. The matter must be given top priority and investigated whether sensitive Army procurements have been abused to enrich some of the faceless men. Enough is enough, let them now get on with the job rather then finding fault. Also its unfortunate that the office of the Army Chief is dragged into controversey too! A bad and dangerous precedent. Wisdom must prevail and truth must win (Satyameva Jayathae).

from:  Dr Kannan
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 17:49 IST

One of the aspects of poor defence preparedness is the tight financial control on every deal irrespective of the cost. It seems that unless the financial wizards get a cut on a deal nothing really happens. People who do not know basics of technology control purse strings and deny or delay purchases. In the Soviet Army engineers have a large say in these matters. In India the engineers are rarely seen. Non technical persons like the Chief decide on fitness of equipment while the maintenance agency is not even asked about it. I once had to fight for a paltry sum for stationery for maintenance literature. Ultimately I could not help
quoting from the poem that the "battle was lost all for the sake of a horse shoe nail" Unless the bureaucrats stop their overpowering dominance over all things in the government the Defence Forces will always be deprived of basic things and their operation fitness will suffer considerably. Only God can help us !

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 17:42 IST
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