Breaking his silence on the army chief's age controversy, former defence secretary Vijay Singh asserted that the matter was "satisfactorily resolved" during his tenure when General VK Singh was appointed Eastern Army commander four years ago and two years before he became army chief.
The former secretary, now a member of the Union Public Service Commission, expressed surprise that the controversy had resurfaced since the general had himself given his unequivocal acceptance to an earlier date of birth (DoB), which is 1950.
Vijay Singh was defence secretary between July 2007 and July 2009, when the chief’s age row was at its peak.
“It’s surprising that the controversy has arisen at all. There was no conspiracy in fixing Gen Singh’s DoB. Our understanding was that the issue had been buried,” said Vijay Singh. He contradicted the claim of Gen Singh’s inner circle that he had accepted an older DoB under pressure.
Vijay Singh told HT, “There was no pressure of any kind on Gen Singh from either the government or former army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor. The question of his correct DoB came up in January 2008, but I recall it was satisfactorily resolved with Gen Singh giving in writing that there was no age issue.”
HT reported last April that Gen Singh had twice committed during 2008-09 to accept the 1950 DoB before being appointed army chief in April 2010.
Vijay Singh said the defence ministry had settled the controversy amicably in 2008 because it did not want the row “to vitiate the tenure” of a future army chief.
Gen Singh has been fighting a protracted battle to effect a change in his DoB from May 10, 1950 to May 10, 1951. This could extend his tenure by almost a year and change the complexion of the army’s hierarchy.
Vijay Singh’s comments come at a time when there is speculation that Gen Singh could move court over the age row. The defence ministry last week rejected chief’s statutory complaint to get his DoB changed.