Army Chief General V.K. Singh, who guided the destiny of over the one-million-strong Indian Army for the past 26 months, will retire on Thursday, leaving behind a tenure which witnessed a row over his age and controversy over charges of bribery and corruption in defence deals.
General Singh, who became the 26 Chief of Staff of the Army on March 31, 2010, has made it his life's goal to spruce up the image of the Army. General Singh (62), a third generation officer, was commissioned into the Rajput regiment on June 14, 1970.
He will be succeeded by Eastern Army Commander General Bikram Singh, who will have a tenure of two years and three months. He will be the fifth GOC-in-C from the Eastern Command to become the Army Chief after P.P. Kumaramangalam, S.H.F.J. Maneckshaw, V.N. Sharma and Gen. Singh.
Considered an upright and honest officer, General Singh, as Army Chief, laid down the roadmap to transform the Army into a lean and mean fighting force.
He had also flagged concerns over the shortage of arms and ammunition and impressed on the government the urgent need for immediate steps to shore up purchases.
His tenure saw the rare step of a serving Army Chief taking the government to the Supreme Court, seeking a change in his date of birth in official records. The legal battle ended with the Supreme Court not accepting his contention that 1951 was his year of birth.
In a recent interview to The Hindu, General Singh hit the headlines by alleging that he was offered a bribe of Rs. 14 crore in 2010 by retired Lt.-Gen. Tejinder Singh for clearing a deal for procuring “substandard” Tatra trucks. His allegation also rocked the Budget Session of Parliament.
Gen. Singh's confidential letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reportedly highlighting critical issue of shortages and deficiencies in the Army, appeared in the media stirring yet another unsavoury controversy.
In his latest move, General V. K. Singh has issued a show cause notice to 3 Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag, in line after General Bikram Singh to become Army Chief, for a botched-up intelligence operation in Jorhat, Assam.
Lt. General Suhag, who has been placed under a discipline and vigilance ban, is facing the prospect of not being promoted as Army Commander, a mandatory requirement for him for elevation to the post of Army Chief in 2014, if the Defence Ministry accepts the outgoing Army Chief's decision.