Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gen. VK Singh issue: Battles with duds or the real thing?

There is no war on, but Gen. VK Singh is creating battles for him to fight. The age row was over when the Supreme Court did not support his stand. But the Army Chief maintains that the Date of Birth (DoB) issue was brought up by interested parties because he “cracked down on corruption”.

Now he is trying to hit back apparently without proper advice and consideration. The two major steps he has taken in this connection are (a) an interview with The Hindu and (b) letter to the PM on the 12th of this month narrating what he claims to be the pitiable condition of the Army and the Air Force.

In the interface with the newspaper Singh says an officer under him approached him with an offer of a bribe of Rs.14 crores if the Army keeps on buying sub-standard trucks that are imported by a public sector company. Whether public sector organizations can have middlemen in dealing with the Defence Forces is another matter.

Strangely, the Army Chief took no action against the subordinate officer concerned. One cannot be blamed for wondering whether he did not have the guts to do so. But he wanted someone else to handle that and therefore verbally informed the Defence Minister Mr. AK Antony. Well, Antony is nobody’s fool. He told the General to take action.

This was about one and a half years back. Gen. VK Singh neither gave a written report to the Minister nor took any action. He simply waited for the person he accused, Lt. Gen. Tejinder Singh, to retire. After losing the DoB case, and at the fag end of his career, he brings the ‘incident’ to public attention possibly in the hope of hitting back at the Government. It would be good if he realistically estimates the credibility he has with the public, politicians and the Government.

Now, let us look at the Army Chief’s letter to the PM which has been leaked out by someone. If he had sent that communication (in all propriety to the Defence Minister) two years back, one could have appreciated his eagerness to set things right in our Army and Air Force. But he has done that just two months before his retirement. Why did he wait all this time?

The questions that comes to one’s mind are whether Gen. VK Singh is at least partially responsible for the apparently dangerous situation the country is facing because of the ill equipped Army and what he did to set matters right. Some people might think that the communication to the PM is advance bail for the condition that the Army is in after two years under him.

The strategy and tactics adopted by Gen. VK Singh seem to have been wrong. Lt. Gen. (Retd) Tejinder Singh has reportedly filed a defamation suit against the present Chief. The CBI is all set to question him. He does not seem to have received any meaningful support from the politicians. Some say that he is frustrated. Others demand that he be sacked.

Has Gen. VK Singh considered the damage that all these cause the morale of the Armed Forces? Then, again, other countries must be laughing at us.  

The citizens have the right to know the truth.  

Also see:

Sapper caste, ‘doopta’, Cotton Maha Prabhu.


Happy Kitten said...

Why else was the DOB taken up as an issue? It was a minor issue that could have been sorted out instead of bringing out to the public domain. Who wanted the General out early?

As for the letter, the same was not leaked by the general. He did approach Anthony and may have realized that Anthony was not capable. Who else will put his hands on his head and stay shocked! That is not a reaction one expects from a defense minister. Anthony occupies that seat only because of his clean image ( a facade that a few wanted a ministy with the most funds) but he is a weak administrator. Just like our honest PM, Anthony is just another honest man who is overwhelmed by everything. One only wonders why he hasnt kept up his usual practice of resigning.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Happy Kitten, you’ve given me a tough one to handle.

We are so used to loud mouthed and reportedly corrupt politicians that we sometimes fail to appreciate those who go about their jobs quietly and efficiently. Given half a chance, the media is eager to pounce upon the mild and the humble.

The people of India have made Manmohan Singh the PM twice and the country has done well under him particularly on the economic front. That is why the opposition has not been able to make any serious attempt to dislodge him. Why should he, or Sonia Gandhi for that matter, have AK Antony as Defence Minister if the man is incompetent? He is a very capable and highly respected person in Kerala as well as nationally. That is why the Opposition has been relatively mild with him. Everyone including the BJP seems to be unhappy with the General.

VK Singh is no one to judge the Defence Minister and the Constitutional proprieties. He took the matter of his DoB to the Supreme Court for ten months more of service. If the Government wanted him out, it could have dismissed or side tracked him then. Do you remember the Vajpayee Government sacking the then Navy Chief? Antony has taken a strong stand that Singh is not to be sacked.

You might have noticed that in his first salvo the General quoted the ‘agent’ saying that others before him had taken and those after him also would accept bribes. That was irrelevant unless the intention was to create the impression that he is the clean fellow. Great soldiers, true officers and gentlemen, have sat on the Chief’s chair.

It took VK Singh ten months to act on a complaint by a TMC MP against 3 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag. He sent it directly to the CBI which I believe is improper procedure. The strange thing is that on March 22 the Army HQ had recommended Gen. Suhag for promotion!

In my opinion, Antony would have been foolish to take action on the so called Rs.14 crores bribe offer based on the Chief’s word. Why didn’t VK Singh take action himself, or refer to the CBI as he has done in Suhag’s case or give a report in writing?

If I were the General, I would have resigned on the DoB issue.

Happy Kitten said...

If TOI is to be taken seriously then Anthony is in trouble for his naivety.

The General took charge in 2010 and tried in his own way to set matters right... one should give him credit.. Anthony recognizes the honest man in Gen VK Singh and hence his dilemma.

Anthony was recruited for the job so that the public will feel that everything is right in Defense.. but now we know that it was only false sense of comfort. Nothing has changed and maybe not even Anthony can change anything. But I am happy that things are going the way it is now. Anthony and VK Singh may end up as scapegoats but it will be for the good of the nation.

Also, please read the following report:

Abraham Tharakan said...

Happy Kitten, thank you for pointing out the sensational report in the TOI of April 1.

There is no doubt that any one who breaks the law should undergo the prescribed punishment even if he is the Defence Minister. It is possible that someone would file a PIL based on the TOI lead. According to that report AK Antony broke the relevant Cr.P.C. provision twice - first when he failed to act upon N. Hanumanthappa’s complaint in 2009 and secondly when Gen. VK Singh informed him of the bribe incident in 2010. The Army Chief failed to comply with this law only once.

It is now revealed that action was taken on Hanumanthappa’s complaint and another one on BEML who manufactures the Tatra trucks.( The TOI reporter has probably overlooked the penal provision Antony would have attracted if he had accused someone of a serious crime on the basis of hearsay. That was why, in the absence of any written report, Antony asked the Army Chief to take action. All that Gen. VK Singh had to do one and a half years back was what he has done now – file a written complaint with the CBI.

On the basis that law is equal to every citizen, Antony has company. On the same date (April 1, 2012) the same paper (TOI) carried a detailed report projecting Hanumanthappa ( The complaint was also forwarded to the President (to whom reportedly a reminder was sent as well), PM, Sonia Gandhi and so on. One wonders what liability Hanumanthappa, and SN Ashoka of BEML who provided him the details, have under Sec 39 of Cr.P.C.

It is only fair that Gen. VK Singh makes public, now that he has opened the subject starting with the print media, what the deficiencies are found in BEML Tatra trucks which the Indian Army has been using for twenty five years. According to reports, just two days back VK Saraswath, the Chief of DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organization) has stated that these trucks are excellent and that India would be buying many more of them if necessary. So far there have been no complaints about them.

Something appears to be wrong somewhere.

Kariyachan said...

Is there a deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of the Defense Minister?

Especially when we look in the angle of a possible replacement of our current PM maybe in future due to any compulsions, and Mr Antony would've been a natural choice ?

And vested interests would've thought it wise to eliminate such a possibility at the earliest?

Also the recent direction of Defense Ministry - related to the arms procurement, especially the Rafale deal - may not have gone well with certain insiders and potential outsider beneficiaries..
So this could be a preemptive strike on Antony and the General and the ministry including PMO who might have been been tricked into this kind of a situation?

Well this is my take in this fiasco.

But the lack of action from Antony or the General is what puzzles every one.. They seems happy in passing the buck.
Is this what we expect from a saintly Defense minister? Or for that matter a perceived efficient and honest General?

Because why just now? Why didn't this issue creep up earlier? The timing is very fishy.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Kariyachan, you have raised some valid points.

It is quite natural that some people are jealous and unhappy about the position AK Antony has reached. There are definitely forces working against him.

No sensible person would have taken action on the word of Gen. VK Singh who could not even sort out his DoB in nearly 40 years of service and finally the Supreme Court had to handle him. The General waited for one and a half years to file a written complaint with the CBI. If Antony had directed the CBI he would have been acting on hearsay and the General could have denied having made the complaint. He should have given it in writing.

Some politicians and interested people would continue to create trouble for honest and sincere persons.

Kariyachan said...

Hi At Sir;

This now-controversial Tatra deal was inked in the mid 80's during Rajiv Gandhi's tenure.

So a detailed probe ordered by Antony will end up being counter productive to the Congress's first family.

Interesting times ahead..!

Abraham Tharakan said...

Hello Kariyachan. That's a good point. But what is more important than anything else is the country.

Shortly after Independence there was a major scandal regarding import of jeeps from UK. If the culprits of that case were properly punished, the corruption level in India would have been probably low.

I am glad to hear from the print media that AK Antony had secretly ordered an investigation into the Tatra deal and that was why the CBI was quick to pounce on Rishi and BEML before they went after the Lt. Gen. named by VK Singh.