The senior-most officer in the Indian military, Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh, has decided to back Air Marshal PS Ahluwalia (retd) in the 95-year-old Delhi Gymkhana Club’s (DGC) presidential elections.
In a signed letter circulated to all club members, the five-star IAF Marshal has urged them to ensure Ahluwalia is “elected unopposed to the office of the president”, in his battle against Director general (infantry) Lieutenant General Rajender Singh.
Apart from Arjan Singh, four former DGC presidents, including two retired army generals, are signatories to the letter seeking support for Ahluwalia.
The reason why the air force officer has found sweeping support is that he had backed out from the presidential race last year so that the then army chief General JJ Singh could be elected unopposed. The understanding was that General JJ Singh would do the president’s term for one year, after which Ahluwalia would stand for elections.
Major General PC Dhawan, a former DGC president, has written to all members that former R&AW chief AS Dulat and former army chief General OP Malhotra were witness to this understanding.
His letter, signed by Arjan Singh and four past presidents, reads: “Keeping in mind the same camaraderie of the defence services and club traditions, Ahluwalia should have been elected unopposed this year. But despite the established tradition, Lieutenant General Rajender Singh has thrown his hat in the ring. This contest should best be avoided.”
Amar PS Aurora, a member for over 45 years, said, “I have never seen such ungentlemanly behaviour. The understanding should be honoured.”
The past presidents backing Ahluwalia include Vice Admiral Subhash Chopra (retd), Lieutenant General TB Nanda (retd) and AS Dulat.
Dhawan further writes members should abide by the tradition of the club “where such a contest between services is avoided and have only one member standing for election.”
Dhawan, along with Arjan Singh and others, have asked the members to “honour the gentlemen’s understanding of last year.” General Rajender’s camp has pleaded ignorance about any such understanding.
The battle to wrest control of DGC has revealed fissures in the army-air force ties, even though serving defence officers say there is no rivalry and both candidates are contesting as individuals.