The government finds itself in a peculiar position where it has to deal with an army chief appointed by it who has dragged it to court.
The awkward situation is likely to have an impact in the daily functioning of the defence ministry where a regular interaction with the army chief is required.
It was hoped that General V.K. Singh would resign before moving court as it would have reduced the prospects of civil-military relations being crippled. But he has surprised everyone by taking on the government while still holding the post.
It remains to be seen if the court tussle will have an impact on the country’s security. As it is, the army’s modernisation plan has already slowed down.
Just days before moving court, General Singh had, in his annual media interaction, listed achievements of his 21-month tenure and given an elaborate view of the transformation process that was set rolling under his leadership.
But it is also a fact that compared to the air force and the navy, army’s modernisation plan is lagging behind. Be it the purchase of new weapons or artillery, expanding aviation fleet or raising a new strike corps, all are stuck at various stages.
The army chief’s move is bound to result in the government losing confidence in him. Even if it does not remove him, the standoff means no major decision is likely to be taken during his remaining tenure.
General Singh has chosen to detach his date of birth row with organisational matters and sought to assert that it was business as usual for the army. But the fact is that the controversy has divided the top echelon of the army and is also bound to affect the morale of the force. The middle and lower rung officers and the troops look up to the chief, who is now embroiled in a battle which is blowing into a government versus military conflict.
It all started as a conflict within the army as General Singh has blamed his former bosses for not allowing the controversy to end by accepting his date of birth as May 10, 1951.
The tussle has led him to challenge the same system that allowed him to become chief despite adverse inputs from certain sections of the bureaucracy and the army leadership.
Among various options that the government is said to be considering is to ask the chief to go on leave till the matter is settled in court, though there was no confirmation from the official quarters about the move.
It has also created bad blood among the top commanders as the age row threatens to have an impact on the succession chain. The leading contender to succeed General Singh, if he retires on May 31, 2012 – Lieutenant-General Bikram Singh – is already facing a court case in an old encounter case.
If the army chief is removed or resigns before completing his tenure, General Shankar Ghosh will be the seniormost after him.
-via India Today.