A leaked secret letter from the army chief to the Prime Minister that outlines major gaps in India's defence preparedness has become the latest battleground between the force and the ministry, taking tensions between the government and General VK Singh to a dangerous and unprecedented level.
While the leak and its implication on national security were criticised by the entire opposition in Parliament, some parties demanded that Gen Singh be sacked. The principal opposition party BJP didn't go that far, but said that that the chief had "breached discipline".
Some of the sympathy for the chief, who had on Monday insinuated that the government didn't act on his complaint that he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe , appeared to have evaporated. It remains unclear where the privileged letter came from.
Defence minister AK Antony said that the leak was against national security interests and that appropriate action would be taken against those behind it.
The army chief had written to the PM on March 12 that obsolete air defence systems, shortage of tank ammunition, ill-equipped Special Forces personnel and deficiencies in night-fighting capabilities had dented the army's capabilities.
Antony confirmed the authenticity of the letter. Much of the information in the letter is already public.
Several political leaders across party lines attacked the general.
Union minister Vayalar Ravi said the leak reflected the chief's "frustrations" after losing his age battle in Supreme Court.
Lalu Prasad and the Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav demanded his resignation.
Defence analyst Maj Gen GD Bakshi (retd) though cautioned against "jumping to conclusions" about the source of the leak.
"Someone wanting to harm him (Gen Singh) could have done it," he said.
The Opposition demanded strict action be taken against the person who leaked the letter, irrespective of the position held by him.
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