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VK Singh is now a politician courting controversy and media mileage: Surya Gangadharan


Updated: January 7, 2013, 5:59 PM IST
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VK Singh is now a politician courting controversy and media mileage: Surya Gangadharan
Is Gen VK Singh the most controversial Army Chief India has ever had?

There was drama at former Army Chief General VK Singh's residence in New Delhi on Saturday afternoon when a Signals Regiment unit reportedly went to remove the army exchange and lines at his house in Mandir Marg at Delhi Cantonment. The General's lawyer Vishwajeet Singh claimed that the residence could have been bugged. Interestingly, General Singh has himself been in the midst of a controversy following allegations that during his tenure as Army Chief he had used sophisticated off-the-air interceptors to snoop on the officials of Defence Ministry at the height of his age controversy. Is Gen VK Singh the most controversial Army chief India has ever had? CNN-IBN's Surya Gangadharan joined IBNLive readers for interaction on the issue.

Q. Is Gen VK Singh the most controversial Army chief India has ever had? Asked by: Harry

A. I should think so. He's courted controversy over his date of birth after agreeing not to make an issue of it; he's accused of dividing his own officers by bringing in caste and community, is also accused of trying to derail the appointment of Gen Bikram Singh as army chief. He's controversial all right!

Q. Why Gen V K Singh is different than his predecessors? Is it because he is honest? Asked by: Rekha

A. He's honest yes to the extent he's not known to have made any money illegally. But his own officers say he has needlessly brought the army into controversy by pushing a purely personal agenda, his date of birth. When it was not resolved to his satisfaction he took the govt to court, the first Indian army chief to do so. He seems to have a very strong sense of entitlement.

Q. Is Gen VK Singh a victim? Asked by: Tiger

A. We can be as much victims as we want. Frankly, Gen VK had nothing to complain. He reached the highest rank in the Indian Army that any officer can aspire for. There can be no higher honour. Having got that he kicked up a storm over his date of birth, which obviously led people to think he actually wanted to serve a three year term. He said no then why all the noise about his birth date? He says his jawan will think he lied about his birth date, does the jawan really care? I don't think they do.

Q. VK Singh used media to his advantage? Does media realise they have played into the hands of a person who is bringing disrepute & ill will in the Army? Asked by: Sajeev

A. I think the media played the VK story because it was controversial, he was not like the usual crop of generals who shy away from media, and he was locking horns with the defence minister. Some sections of the media supported him, other opposed him. Then there were officers in the army who leaked stuff about him, his conduct, personal record etc etc. VK was not embarrassed, the army was. The army doesn't like to be in the limelight especially on such issues.

Q. There are so many things that make Gen V K Singh controversial. How do you see the other side of it? Why only he is in controversy? Was he a threat to the establishment? Asked by: Rekha

A. He was the first chief to to make an issue about his birth date. Ultimately, it turned out there were mistakes made at the time when he joined the NDA and for some reason never got corrected. Even if that was an indictment of the army processes, where was the need to go to town about it. The anomaly did not stop him from reaching the highest rank an army officer can aspire to. He did lock horns with the defence minister, is accused of trying to stoke
casteist/communal sentiments within the army. That alarmed some who said it could create discipline issues.

Q. You seem to completely absolving Government on the DoB issue. Why so much onus on VK Singh on DOB issue. How cn Raksha Mantri wash his hands off it ? Asked by: Sumit

A. The date of birth issue was an army issue. They should have sorted it out, they never did. The MoD can only tell the army to sort it out,they can't get involved in what is an internal army issue. VK knows this, everybody in the army knows this. Yes, AK Antony could have been a lot tougher with VK when he began raising caste/communal issues but never was.

Q. Why is it we always seem to criticise people who fight for their rights.. age was a controversy..but don't you think every person can fight for justice. Asked by: neha

A. The age was not a controversy because Gen VK had in writing accepted 1950 as his date of birth when JJ Singh was chief. Later, he complained that he had been coerced, but can you really coerce a senior officer. VK's fight for justice was misplaced since he had become army chief. He should have focused on bettering the lot of his jawans, of ex-servicemen, even procurement issues took a back seat in his tenure.

Q. Is the Indian Army trying to slowly assert itself against the constant involvement of the politicians in it's functioning. although for another issue but was Gen V.K. Singh's decision to take on the defense minister a step in that direction. Asked by: JK

A. I don't think politicians are interfering in internal army issues. I think every politician in India knows what happened when Nehru and Krishna Menon meddled in the conduct of the the 1962 war. But yes, senior officers are known to seek the help of influential politicians for coveted postings and promotions.

Q. why you are blaming Mr VK Singh only? Why not Indian govt? Indian govt target every person who raise voice against UPA. Asked by: DHARMESH MEENA

A. Let's get one thing straight. VK Singh is now a politician courting controversy and media mileage. Look at how his family detained an officer sent to remove telephone lines from his residence. The first thing they did was call the media. VK to my mind was laying the ground for his future political career. This man will not go silently into the night. Which is good, we need somebody with his kind of background in our political life. He may do very well!

Q. All the things I have heard about VK from the media puts him in bad light. What are the positive sides of him? Asked by: Rekha

A. He's honest, isn't afraid of authority (civil or military), isn't afraid of the media either (unlike many officers in uniform).

Q. How good was Gen VK Singh as an Army Commander? Asked by: Subrata

A. As army chief his tenure seemed to have been entirely taken up with his date of birth, at least that's the assumption. He could have raised the issue of bribe giving much earlier when it happened, but did not. Procurement issues were apparently not given their due, he gave a bad name to the Tatra truck when much of the army relies heavily on that vehicle.

Q. If, for a moment, we believe that the media is correct, when they claim that Gen V K Singh is a decorated officer whose integrity is beyond reproach, why is it controversial if the good general is fighting with everything that is wrong in the armed forces? Dont you think the present Govt is equally to blame for creating a mountain out of the mole hill? Somebody in the Govt is sporting a huge ego, which is resulting in rebels like V K Singh, Anna, Jagan, Mamata etc.. Could you venture a guess who is it in this Govt? Asked by: Karthik

A. Let's not confuse issues here. The date of birth issue had nothing to do with the defence ministry. It was purely an internal army matter that was mishandled. VK did not fight to correct wrongdoing to the armed forces by the civilians, he only fought over his date of birth, a personal issue. The assumption is he wanted a three year tenure as army chief, which would have upset the chances of the next incumbent and they may have gone to court setting off more controversy. Govt is dumb, yes, it lacks ideas, no imagination, no ability to communicate the truth and has no credibility at all.

Q. Why the media frenzy regarding Gen VK Singh? What is the need to elevate him to a pedestal? Asked by: vikrant

A. Some sections of the media did try to raise him to pedestal status but frankly most of us had seen through him. Media likes masala and so followed his every move. Yes many ex servicemen said he was giving the civilians a bit of their own medicine, they were basically reflecting the frustration over the fact that the forces remain outside the political decision making process, there is no strategic thinking among the politicians and the bureaucracy likes it that way as their power and position is preserved. VK is the guy who cocked a snook at them and got away with it!

First Published: January 7, 2013, 5:59 PM IST
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