New Delhi: The age row involving Army Chief General VK Singh appears to be growing and taking a dramatic turn.
If reports are to be believed, General Singh has told the Defence Secretary, according to highly-placed sources, that he believes he is being treated in a manner as if he was the Army Chief of Pakistan.
The Army Chief said this to the Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, sources said, over a week before Defence Minister AK Antony last month turned down his statutory complaint on his date of birth controversy.
As per a report in a leading daily, Sharma had met General Singh on December 21 last year and wanted to know from him what his future plans are on the age row.
According to sources, the Army Chief told the Defence Secretary that he was fighting for the issue for honour and not for an extra year in office
Army records differently mention General Singh’s birth dates as May 10, 1950 and 1951. If the Defence Ministry accepts May 10, 1951 as his date of birth as contended by the Army Chief, he would then be entitled to an extra year in office before he retires.
The government is worried that General Singh may move court over the issue, even though he has been advised by many, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, against doing so.
The government is believed to be working hard to ensure the matter is settled out of court in order to avoid a division in the Army.
The Congress has already expressed concern over reports that the Army Chief may seek legal redressal on the age row.
"Armed forces are an institution, which are held high in esteem not only by the political establishment but by various sections of society.
"What is happening is definitely a matter of concern. But I would not like to go into it. Those who are charged with the responsibility or are dealing with the issue should arrive at some kind of appropriate solution," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
The Army Chief has also got support from former Punjab chief minister and current Congress state chief, Captain Amarinder Singh.
Singh has written a letter Antony, dated December 17, saying the controversy was affecting the Army’s morale. “We have over eight lakh ex-servicemen in Punjab, where this issue remains an active topic, as it is, I am sure, amongst ex-servicemen in other states as well. Needless to say, General VK Singh continues to get support of the vast majority,” Singh said in the letter.