Pallam Raju says government will address concerns voiced by Gen. Singh

The spat between General V.K. Singh and the government has taken a vicious turn with a correspondence from the Army Chief to the Prime Minister on inadequate defence materials and preparedness becoming public and the issue rocking Parliament on Wednesday and members seeking his removal.

The March 12 letter was published by Mumbai-based English daily DNA.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony assured the Rajya Sabha that while there would be no compromise on protecting the country, he would consult the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues before acting on the members' suggestion.

It is understood that while the top leadership held consultations, the sentiment that prevailed was that the Army Chief should ensure that his conduct did not harm the country and its image.

While a section interpreted the mood in Parliament as a “mandate” for the government, the feeling was that the suggestion for dismissal of Gen. Singh was not quite there.

The letter talked of depleted ammunition for tanks, inadequate air defence weapons and the infantry having outdated weapons.

A former bureaucrat said the Service chiefs did periodically raise such issues, which were attended to.

“Acquisition is an ongoing process, and the Service chiefs hold regular meetings with the Ministry, wherein the situation is reviewed and looked into,” a former Defence Secretary said.

Admitting to gaps in the capabilities of the armed forces, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said the government would address the concerns voiced by Gen. Singh.

“Definitely, gaps are there, and the government is serious about addressing them as quickly as possible. We are fine-tuning the acquisition process to speed it up, and the government has been very responsive to the needs of the armed forces,” he said.

Interestingly, the row comes on the eve of the seventh Defexpo that opens here on Thursday. The world's leading defence manufacturers will showcase their products in the four-day event.

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