Army chief General V K Singh wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Parties ask Centre to sack Army chief after letter citing India’s weak defence is leaked

Army chief General V K Singh wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 12 saying there was severe shortage of ammunition in the forces
In New Delhi: It looks like Army chief General V K Singh is set to retire in May with all guns blazing. His letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the shortage of ammunition in the forces that was leaked to the media, created uproar in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. 

As political tension mounted over the leaked letter, the government thought over the sacking of Gen Singh to save its face. 

Even as leaders from the Samajwadi Party and Janta Dal (United) asked the government to give marching orders to Gen Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony did not favour any drastic step. 

Sources said some decision could be announced once the Parliament session goes for a three-week break from March 30. 

Soon after the letter leak, the PM held consultations with Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P Chidambaram before finalising the Centre’s reply in the Parliament. 

In his letter, dated March 12, Gen Singh asks the PM to “pass suitable directions to enhance the preparedness of the Army”. The chief describes the state of artillery, air defence, and infantry as alarming. He writes that the Army’s tanks are “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks” and air defence is “97% obsolete”. 

Antony a poor manager: Oppn

Opposition MPs, who demanded action against the Army chief for “revealing the hollowness” of the country’s defence system admitted that Antony was a clean and honest man but a poor manager. 

“The dividing line between the good and the good-for-nothing is very thin. It gets blurred when it comes to someone like Antony. Nobody questions his integrity but we feel he has not delivered on managing the country’s defence needs,” said a senior BJP leader. 

Some Congress leaders felt that the letter leak was aimed not so much at tarnishing the Army chief’s image but to snatch Antony’s halo. 

He was Sonia Gandhi’s strong choice for the President of India’s office. “Someone has deliberately targeted Antony through the letter. He must do something to assert his authority, bring the defiant Army chief to heel,” said a Union minister close to Antony.

The minister said that Antony should have sacked Gen Singh when he moved court last year against the government over the birth date row. 

Sources said that Antony, who promised to take appropriate action against those who leaked the letter,  is reportedly not keen to give marching orders to the General, who is due to retire in May.