Army chief Gen VK Singh on Friday declared ceasefire to calm the brewing confrontation with the government, accusing “elements” of trying to project a “schism” between him and defence minister AK Antony.
He said such elements should be identified and exposed.
Gen Singh signalled a climbdown a day after Antony publicly reposed faith in the all the three services chiefs.Gen Singh said the army and its chief were part of the government and there was no rift between the two. "It’s untrue and needs to be guarded against," he said.
“We are duty-bound to serve our country and to protect the institutional integrity of the army at all costs, even if we sometimes have to look within.”
The army chief blamed former Defence Intelligence Agency chief Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd), who had allegedly offered him a R14-crore bribe in August 2010 to clear the purchase of “substandard” trucks, for launching a smear campaign against him.
While the chief tried to explain the reasons behind making the revelation 18 months later in an interview on March 26, his statement offered no insight into why he did not take action against Tejinder Singh.
The chief did say that after the matter was brought to Antony’s notice, steps were taken “institutionally to keep a wary eye” on the retired officer.
The interview triggered the latest round of confrontation with the government, after his date of birth row.
He said, “Eighteen months later, the person resurfaced in beginning of March and launched a smear campaign under the veil of anonymity alleging that the army was snooping on the Raksha Mantri (defence minister).” He said the identity and antecedents of the individual concerned were made public (on March 5) after the army headquarters identified him.
He said there had been a string of leaks in the past, culminating with the “public airing” of his letter to the PM.
The chief also took a shot at the media for creating a misleading picture of the matter.
A series of developments following the leaking of a letter written by the army chief to the PM outlining gaps in India's defence preparedness had flared up tensions between the general and the government.
The chief then asked the CBI to probe corruption charges against a serving lieutenant general, bypassing the defence ministry, further worsening relations with the government.