The Indian Army may be running short of ammunition but its chief, Gen VK Singh, seems to have plenty of it.
On a day when defence minister AK Antony tried to defuse the row between Gen Singh and the government by publicly reposing faith in the chief, it emerged that the combative general had escalated his war, and further embarrassed the government, by directly seeking a CBI probe into alleged corruption by 3 Corps Commander Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag.
The move, bypassing the defence ministry, highlighted the complete breakdown of communication between the chief and the government.
Gen Singh appears to have assumed a confrontationist stance after he lost the battle to change his date of birth, which would have given him another year in service:
On March 26, he alleged in an interview that a recently-retired officer offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear the purchase of "substandard trucks" and that the government didn't act on his complaint on the issue.
On Thursday, it emerged that he had dug out a May 2011 letter from Trinamool Congress MP Ambika Banerjee charging Lt Gen Suhag with corruption.
Lt Gen Suhag is tipped to become the chief after army chief-designate Lt Gen Bikram Singh retires in 2014. Antony said he wasn't aware of the 10-month-old complaint being referred to the CBI by the chief.
"Sometime back, he told me about this case. I told him if there's any specific complaint, he must take action. I have no knowledge that the case has been referred to the CBI," Antony said, after inaugurating India's biggest land and naval defence systems exhibition, DefExpo-2012.
The irony is that while the chief has sought a CBI probe against Suhag, Antony said the army headquarters had, on March 22, sent a proposal to the ministry to promote the officer as one of the seven army commanders.
Gen Singh would have approved the recommendation.
Asked if a service chief could directly refer a complaint to CBI, the minister said he did not want to add "fuel to the fire" and wanted things to cool down .
While the chief referred Lt Gen Suhag's case to the CBI, his response was very different when former Defence Intelligence Agency chief Lt Gen Tejinder Singh allegedly offered a bribe.
The minister told Parliament on March 27 that he had asked the chief to take action against the person (Tejinder Singh) who allegedly offered him bribe but Gen Singh did not pursue the matter.