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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Amarinder once vouched for VK Singh’s ‘integrity’

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 13, 2014
First Published: 08:27 IST(13/6/2014) | Last Updated: 08:30 IST(13/6/2014)

Now seeking his dismissal as union minister, Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh had once been a firm backer of former army chief VK Singh. At the height of VK Singh’s date-of-birth controversy, it was Amarinder, an ex-serviceman, who had written a strong letter to the then defence minister AK Antony vouching for VK Singh’s “integrity”. Now, Amarinder claims VK Singh had “betrayed” him by “concealing” some facts about the case.

In that letter, though, describing VK Singh as a “soldiers’ general”, Amarinder had said that for a soldier, “izzat (honour)” came above all. “When that honour is questioned, he must fight for it.

This, I believe, is where the General’s battle-lines are drawn. I must also say, this is where I too, fully agree with him,” Amarinder then wrote to Antony, his party colleague. Much has changed since then. Amarinder, who is the Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, has demanded VK Singh’s resignation for his “highly objectionable” remarks against army chief-designate Lt Gen Dalbir Singh. “This amounted to denigrating the Indian army,” he said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

When HT asked Amarinder about the change of stand, he accused the former army chief of “betrayal” and “concealing” some “important facts” about the entire row from him. “I felt letdown when I learned that he had already accepted the government’s version of his age while getting two promotions, first as a major general and then as a lieutenant general,” the former Punjab chief minister told HT. “Once you sign and accept a particular date as your date of birth, which he had done while getting the promotion, you can’t dispute it later on, just to stay for one more year as the army chief.”

Amarinder said he had written to Antony to accept VK Singh’s plea about his age as he thought that the commander-in-chief of an army of 1.3 million “may not be lying”. “Moreover, I believed that the chief of our army should not be suspected about the facts he is submitting to the government.”

Amarinder then was not the only Congress leader to have batted for VK Singh. A group of Rajput leaders from the party had also met the then PM Manmohan Singh to plead his case.

Congress sources are attributing the change of heart to VK Singh’s move to first join the Anna Hazare movement and then the BJP.

Participating in the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Lok Sabha, Amarinder on Wednesday said if VK Singh does not resign on his own, he should be dismissed from the government.

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