Army Chief's letter to PM
Army Chief General VK Singh’s relations with the UPA government appeared to have reached breaking point, as his leaked March 12, 2012 “top secret” letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wherein he has elaborated on how India’s security is at risk (see box) triggered a major furore in both Houses of Parliament.
General Singh’s letter to the PM was leaked on the eve of the 4th BRICS Summit being hosted in New Delhi for which top leaders of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, have already arrived.
The latest embarrassment to the government caused by the army chief provoked leaders across the party line in Parliament to demand his immediate sacking (see box), though the BJP refrained from taking this line but demanded an explanation from the government on the issues raised by the Army Chief, General Singh, who is currently on an oficial tour in Jammu & Kashmir, will return to the capital on March 30. He is due to retire in May end.
Defence Minister AK Antony told the Rajya Sabha that the government’s commitment to the national security will never be compromised, saying: “I wish to assure the House and through it, the nation that the government is determined to do all that is necessary to ensure the security of India.”
Antony said publishing the contents of secret letters was not in the interest of the security of the country and added that the government will respond to it appropriately. Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi launched a frontal attack on the army chief and said, “He did not get an extension even from the court so it may be a frustrated mind's utterance.”
POLITICAL PARTIES GUNNING FOR GENERALSINGH
Lalu Prasad Yadav, President, Rashtriya Janata Dal: The army chief has begun talking like someone who wants to contest elections. He must be dismissed.
Shivanand Tiwari, Janata Dal (United) leader: The army chief should be removed from his post for inappropriate behaviour.
Ram Gopal Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader: General Singh is talking too much. He should be dismissed.
Sitaram Yechury, CPI (M) leader: The government must identify the person responsible for the leak. The responsibility will have to be fixed and action be taken…irrespective of the position they may hold in the defence forces or the civilian administration.
Mohan Singh, Samajwadi Party leader: VK Singh should not make confidential issues public. Why didn't he raise this when he became the Chief?
ARMY CHIEF’S MAIN CONTENTIONS
* The Indian Army is constrained by out-dated technology.
* The state of artillery, air dfence and infantry is “alarming”.
* Air defence “is 97% obsolete”.
* Army tanks are “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”.
* The Prime Minister should “pass suitable directions to enhance the preparedness of the Army”.