PM upset over Army chief`s action

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 19:32

New Delhi: Asking Army Chief Gen V K Singh to go on forced leave is one of the options before the Government, which is more than upset over the leakage of his
letter to the Prime Minister projecting the country`s defence preparedness in poor light.

A minister who declined to be identified said as of now
there are only two options before the Government "tolerate the
Army Chief till his retirement due in the next two months or
force him to go on leave".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is upset over the Army
chief`s action but the government was not thinking of any
drastic step as it was not seeing the issue in terms of an
officer but in terms of an office.

"No sacking" was the refrain of another senior minister,
who said that the General has violated Army discipline by
writing directly to the Prime Minister and not through the
Defence Minister.

Incidentally, Gen Singh had done a similar thing during
the row over his age.

The latest controversy was the worst thing that could
have happened to the government at a time when it was hosting
leaders of the BRICS nations including China.

The Prime Minister held deliberations with Defence
Minister A K Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram in
Parliament as the issue rocked the Rajya Sabha in morning.
Antony also held discussions on the matter with the NSA
separately.

The government`s view in the matter will be crystallised
when the issue is expected to come up in Lok Sabha tomorrow.
The General`s actions are the result of his failure to
get one more year in service is the view of the government.

Minister of Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi put it more
succinctly. "I do not know what the issue is..? I have not seen
the letter. The Army is a disciplined force. (He) could not
get an extension even by the court. May be a frustrated man
suffers," Ravi said.

Asked if Gen Singh should have written to Defence
Minister A K Antony instead of the Prime Minister on the
issue, Ravi said, "That is the maryada. But I am saying...
whatever he does is action of a frustrated individual."

A minister also pointed out that if there are any
shortcomings in the defence preparedness, then it is the Army
chief who is to be blamed as he heads the organization.

Rajya Sabha saw a rare unanimity between the government
and the Opposition over the controversy with JD-U demanding
dismissal of the Army chief for "gross indiscipline" while BJD
also maintaining that the government should take immediate
action of sacking whoever has to be sacked.

Senior BJP leader and former Defence Minister Jaswant
Singh had given a notice for suspension of Question Hour in
the Lok Sabha but it could not be taken up as the row over
Telangana forced repeated adjournments in the House.

Talking to reporters outside Parliament, RJD chief Lalu
Prasad said, "He (General) should be sacked immediately. Why
he was silent all these days if there was shortage of
ammunition." Prasad suspected that the General could be doing
all this as he wanted to fight elections.

Buoyed by the Opposition support, a minister said it is
time the General realizes that his actions have antagonized
the entire political class, which is not happy with the
situation arising out of the controversy.

"He should realize that the government has the mandate of
the nation to take action" he said.

Congress also echoed similar views but advocated a
cautious approach as it felt that his dismissal was not an
answer.

"Dismissal will create one more problem. It will set a
wrong precedent. What impression will go outside if Army Chief
is dismissed? Even otherwise he is going to retire in the next
two months.

The Army Chief should carry on unless he creates
some another problem in future," a party leader said on the
condition of anonymity.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 19:32

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