Jaitley isn’t VK Singh’s defence minister; backs Dalbir Singh’s appointment as the next army chief

Singh attacked Army chief designate Dalbir Singh, accusing him of trying to protect a unit that "kills innocents," and "does dacoity".

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: June 12, 2014 2:17 am
Jaitley dismissed MoS V K Singh’s statement accusing Dalbir Singh of protecting a unit that “kills innocents”. ( Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey )

A day after its Minister of State V K Singh accused the Army Chief designate of protecting a unit that “kills innocents” and “does dacoity”, the government on Wednesday made it clear that it does not support his attack, reiiterating that the appointment of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh as the next chief is final.

Responding to the uproar in parliament over V K Singh’s remarks, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the government “fully defends the appointment” of Dalbir Singh. “The UPA government had made the appointment of the next Army Chief some weeks ago. It’s been a practice in this country that we keep some issues outside the realm of inter-party politics… not only the government, but all of us must keep the Army and its appointments out of this arena and stand by the appointment. The present government also is fully defending that appointment,” said Jaitley.

In a direct attack on Dalbir Singh, V K Singh had tweeted on Tuesday: “If unit kills innocents, does dacoity and then head of organization tries to protect them, should he not be blamed? Criminals should go free!!”

His tweet came on the day that The Indian Express reported that the BJP-led government’s affidavit in the Supreme Court has termed V K Singh’s action as the then Army Chief against Dalbir Singh as “illegal”, “extraneous” and “premeditated”.

The government on Wednesday came under attack in both houses of Parliament with senior Congress leaders Amarinder Singh and Anand Sharma demanding the removal of V K Singh from the Council of Ministers for making “unacceptable and highly objectionable statements” on the “persona of the Army Chief designate”. “If a serving minister is making such a statement, the government ought to remove this minister. The Prime Minister must clarify this issue. It is unacceptable. He cannot continue in the government, he cannot be a member of the Council of Ministers,” Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha.

“Even after his own government has indicted him, the language used by him in a tweet is highly derogatory. To call the next Chief of Army Staff a criminal and those working under him in the forces dacoits is not acceptable. I hope the government will take note of this and he will be dismissed from the Council of Ministers immediately,” said Amarinder Singh in the Lok Sabha.

While he did not defend V K Singh’s comments, Jaitley said the matter should not be raised as it could prompt the minister to “consider defending himself”. “I would urge that this issue, directly, indirectly or even collaterally, may not be raised for the reason that if one of the major political parties chooses to attack a minister, then the minister may consider defending himself,” said Jaitley.

As first reported by The Indian Express, the Ministry of Defence, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court on Monday, defended Dalbir Singh’s promotion and described the disciplinary ban on him by V K Singh as Army Chief as “illegal”, “extraneous” and “premeditated”. It said the the disciplinary proceedings against Dalbir Singh between April and May 2012 by V K Singh was “without any basis or material on record”.

The government affidavit came in response to a petition by Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, who alleged favouritism in selection of Dalbir Singh as Army commander — making him next in line to succeed General Bikram Singh. In his last days in office in May 2012, V K Singh had effectively tried to block the appointment of Dalbir Singh as the Eastern Army Commander, whcih would have put him out of contention for the top post.

Jaitley isn’t VK Singh’s defence minister; backs Dalbir Singh’s appointment as the next army chief

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    BigB
    Jun 11, 2014 at 10:31 am
    It looks like BJP has chosen not to block any of UPA initiative to look inclusive. I have a feeling that is very defensive in nature. And all the problems of this world has come because of defensive actions and reactions. BJP, you don't have to be extra inclusive because his have been saying you will be divisive. It's time to be correct.
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      Arun Gupta
      Jun 11, 2014 at 7:28 am
      Strange are the ways of politics. He may be totally wrong but always love the enemy's enemy.
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        Anil Gudhekar
        Jun 12, 2014 at 2:03 am
        Actually UPA Govt must not have to appoint him as they r outgoing Govt.
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          Anil Gudhekar
          Jun 12, 2014 at 2:17 am
          There must be law for All appointmet from Out going Govt. must be cancelled when New Govt. is form. & for Post like Military chief such before dissolution they must not have to appoint.
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            arun kumar
            Jun 11, 2014 at 7:05 am
            The govt is showing signs of internal dissent since it ahs just begun functioning. Too early rather. Ministers tweeting against their own govt decisions! How far will it go in this govt. This is the first one. Many more to come yet.
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              Dinesh Singh
              Jun 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm
              Mr. Jaitley by siding with tainted General designate (Suhag) has given impression that uprooting corruption is not on the main agenda of his ministry. They will maintain status quo by not rocking the boat of those involved in unethical practices. Gen V K Singh and likes of Kiran Bedi may be in for rude shock.
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                Dharam pal
                Jun 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm
                This was a reaction to MOD filing an affidavit indicting VK Singh. The General had to defend himself. Most erudite statement has come from Mr. Jaitely. The controversy should now rest in the interest of the country.
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                  Girish
                  Jun 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm
                  why, o why, pray tell me, is a former general no army officer openly or privately ever calls corrupt or inept, bearing the cross of dishonour, whilst his inglorious predecessors have flats in adarsh and are governors?
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                    MK Vyas
                    Jun 11, 2014 at 9:52 am
                    Jetley should preach this to VKSingh
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                      Nityananda
                      Jun 11, 2014 at 7:55 am
                      Mr Jaitley has said " issues concerning armed forces should be kept out of politics." That is unexceptionable and it's good he has emphasized this. He should also then tell his politician colleague Mr V K Singh not to vitiate the atmosphere in the Army by bad mouthing Gen Suhag who is the incoming Chief.Mr V K Singh should learn to let bygones be bygones, though he may yet face a Supreme Court stricture in this affair.
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                        Paddy Singh
                        Jun 12, 2014 at 7:13 am
                        VK Singh seems to be totally senile and belies the retion he had when he took over as COAS. If he had allowed the government to decide his retirement date, abided by it, he would definitely have gone on to become governor of a state. But instead he lost his case in court, started malicious enquiries just as he was retiring. He was fortunate enough to get a BJP ticket, but may lose his chair in the Council of Ministers if he continues agitating. His loss will not be the BJP's loss.
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                          SCS Pathania
                          Jun 11, 2014 at 10:29 am
                          Congress party is trying to create all kind of muck, they have raked up the COAS issue through their IAS cronies who in turn have still not digested the fact that new people are at the helm of affairs. The scape goat is the future COAS. Idle minds, the congress, devils workshop out to create mischief . They have mucked up the forces and are still at it. Old habits die hard.
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                            Ravish Tiwari
                            Jun 11, 2014 at 8:29 am
                            Many more will come because it's democratic government. No worries govt has clean majority unhappiness is good for government to function right, though it will not be able to cast big price for govt.
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                              FaltooComment
                              Jun 11, 2014 at 5:25 pm
                              support to Gen V K Singh
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                                NLS
                                Jun 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm
                                BJP ministers should stop playing into the hands of corrupt Congress (which delivered very little in their 10 year tenure) by speaking out of turn and creating needless controversies.
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                                  Thomas George
                                  Jun 11, 2014 at 7:53 am
                                  Dissent is not a problem. Keeping quiet when one feels that there is a problem is. Manmohan Singh would have been a much stronger PM, and India a much stronger country, if he dissented party decisions every now and then. Extreme loyalty is not a not a virtue for those in public office.
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                                    Curious onlooker
                                    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:03 am
                                    As the Defence Minister himself says, some issues must be kept outside the arena of inter party polemics; the service chief issue being one of those things. Mr Jaitley was therefore right in censuring the retired army general for questioning the appointment of the new army chief. As a member if the council of ministers, Gen V.K.Singh ought have observed proper decorum !
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                                      V Gupta
                                      Jun 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm
                                      Watching General VK Singh over the last while one gets the strong impression that the man has little judgement or discretion and lacks self -control. Modi government can not afford such unnecessary controversy, especially at this early stage, given that it has lot of work ahead and needs to focus on those tasks. Singh should either learn to control himself or like a loyal soldier say sorry and resign from the Cabinet. There is little room for indisciplined statements from Cabinet members.
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