Army chief Gen VK Singh had flagged serious concerns about the weakening capabilities of his force to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a leaked top-secret letter.
The chief listed out poor night-fighting capabilities, shortage of tank ammunition, obsolete air defence systems and ill-equipped forces as the main areas of worry. Experts say there is an urgent need to address the concerns without further delay.
Hindustantimes.com conducted a poll to see whom does the common man hold responsible for the controversy created by the army chief's letter.
An overwhelming 66% held the government responsible for the controversy, 30% blamed Gen Singh for the whole episode while 4% said they can't say who is to be held accountable.
Today's development came on top of an acrimony between the army chief and the government in the last two days over his media interview in which he had claimed that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by a retired Lt Gen for swinging a sub-standard defence deal.
Both government and opposition agreed that the issues raised by the general in a letter to the Prime Minister should not become a matter of public debate and said that the issue should not have come out in the open.
Political opinion on the fate of the army chief however remained divided, with parties like
, the BJP made clear it did not support the demand but is of the opinion that writing such a letter to the PM is a "breach of discipline".
Though the Congress party steered clear of the controversy, union minister Vyalar Ravi attacked Gen Singh saying his actions reflected "frustrations" of an individual who had to withdraw his petition on the age row in the Supreme Court.
Congress advocated a cautious approach and Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi downplayed Vyalar Ravi's remark and said, "Those who are dedicated to the country naturally feel the angst when they hear such things".
Prime Minister Singh is upset over the army chief's action but the government is not thinking of any drastic step as it is not seeing the issue in terms of an officer but in terms of an office.
According to reports, there are only two options before the Government "tolerate the army chief till his retirement due in the next two months or force him to go on leave".
Major issues in General VK Singh's letter to PM:
1. Army’s entire tank fleet is 'devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks'
2. Air defence is '97% obsolete.
3. Air defence doesn't give deemed confidence to protect'.
4. Infantry is crippled with 'deficiencies of crew served weapon'.
5. Infantry lacks "night fighting" capabilities.
6. Elite Special Forces are “woefully short” of “essential weapons.
7. There are “large-scale voids” in critical surveillance.
Lets see what the twitterati had to say:
Politicians who plundered crores now want the man who served the nation with dignity- the Chief Of Army Staff(COAS) to resign #Shameless— Vinay S (@yesvinay) March 28, 2012
Those who disbelieve the army chief should perhaps look at the air force whereplanes drop from the sky like flies.— Shashanka Nanda (@sidelower) March 28, 2012
Two months to go & the army chief finds everything wrong with Indian army. Give him another year and he will sing carols for Antony:-)— J.M.Manchanda (@jmmanchanda) March 28, 2012
Civil-military relations in India are already strained and Parliament's credibility is low. MPs play with fire by asking army chief be fired— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) March 28, 2012