‘Equilibrium between Defence Min, Army disturbed’
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Last Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 18:49
New Delhi: Expressing concern over Army Chief Gen V K Singh's letter to the Prime Minister, BJP on Wednesday said "it shows the equilibrium between the Defence Ministry and the Army has been disturbed" and pitched for modernisation of the forces which appear to have suffered.

"The contents of the Army Chief's letter are scary. When the common man reads that the defence forces have no ammunition and cannot defend the country he finds it scary," Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters.

BJP was equally critical of the Army Chief for not pursuing the bribe offer case and writing a letter to the Prime Minister on the state of affairs in the Army as well as Defence Minister A K Antony for not handling these issues- including the need for modernisation- with deftness.

"The decision to write a letter is always fraught with the possibility, even if one per cent, that it may be leaked at some point in time," Swaraj said, criticising the Army Chief.

She also wondered why Gen V K Singh had not immediately got the officer, who offered him Rs 14 crore bribe, arrested.

BJP is also of the opinion that writing such a letter to the PM is a "breach of discipline". It expressed its ire at the differences between the ministry and the Army.

"It is very evident that while the armed forces are within civilian control and that ought to be, the equilibrium between them remains disturbed," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said. He claimed that to deal with such issues, deft political management and statecraft is required, "which this government appears to be lacking".

"Government of India has been found wanting on several issues, be it the Army chief's age row or this matter. This is not in the country's interest. This problem needs to be corrected through statecraft and political leadership. And I also mean from the Prime Minister," Prasad said.

Asked about its view on the demand of ally JD(U) that Gen Singh be sacked, Prasad said "we do not share the view that he should be sacked."

BJP underlined the need for procurement of weapons and modernisation of the forces.

"We are very clear that integrity of the procurement process ought not to be compromised. Modernisation should go on without compromising on honesty, integrity and credibility of the army," Prasad said.

The opposition party insisted it did not want to score political points on such a sensitive issue but these questions have to be posed.

"Why is the integrity agreement between the ministry and the army not working?" Prasad said.

BJP reiterated its stand that these fissures between the ministry and the army should not have come into the public.

"General V K Singh will retire in a month," Prasad said, adding the bigger issues raised here should be addressed.

The party wondered why Antony had not apprised the Prime Minister about Gen Singh's bribe offer incident.

Former Defence Minister and BJP MP Jaswant Singh had given a notice for suspension of the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha today to discuss the Army Chief's letter issue but it could not be taken up as there was uproar over the Telangana issue.


First Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 18:49

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