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PROFILE: V K Singh, a former Army Chief now a Minister
Controversial former Army Chief Gen V K Singh, who was made the Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Narendra Modi government, has somewhat of chequered past with one episode being a long unsuccessful battle with the UPA government over his age issue.
Singh, 63, lost the legal battle over his age issue with the Defence Ministry in 2012 and joined Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation against the UPA Government before joining the BJP just before the elections.
In the Lok Sabha elections, Singh defeated Raj Babbar of Congress from Ghaziabad seat by 5.67 lakh votes, which was second biggest margin in this election after Modi, who trounced his Congress rival Madhusudan Mistry by over 5.70 lakh votes in Vadodara.
A newcomer to politics, Singh has been in the eye of the storm over one issue or the other in recent times.
Soon after he took over as the Army chief, he started an anti-corruption tirade in the Army which saw several Lt Gens including former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash facing court martial for his role in the Sukna land scam.
The majority of his tenure as Army chief was overshadowed by his battle with the Government over his age issue as he claimed it to be May 10, 1951 whereas the Government said it was May 10, 1950.
The issue saw Singh become the first service chief in the country to drag the Government to court and later, the Supreme Court decided in favour of the Government.
In his last days in office, Singh stirred controversy when he stated that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing a file related to the procurement of 600 Tatra trucks for the Army.
The issue snowballed into a big controversy and an embarrassed Defence Ministry under AK Antony had to order a CBI probe to investigate the issue.
Singh’s secret military intelligence unit Technical Support Division (TSD) was also charged with being involved in snooping into telephone conversations of senior defence ministry officials at the height of his age controversy.
Post retirement, he came under fire from the Army headquarters which blamed the TSD created by him for carrying out unauthorised and illegal operations and trying to destabilise the state government in Jammu and Kashmir.
In his autobiography, Singh blamed unnamed officials in the Prime Minister’s Office including a coterie of bureaucrats and journalists for making attempts to destabilise him during his tenure as the Army chief.
Apart from the controversies surrounding him, Singh is known to be a tough taskmaster and a hands-on person.
He initiated the transformation studies in the Army to make it more efficient and improving its capability for waging a two-front war.
A top-notch Commando from the US Army Ranger school, he is credited for accomplishing the tasks assigned to him by the higher authorities.
He commanded the Ambala-based 2 Strike Corps and the Kolkata-based Eastern Command before taking over as the Army Chief in 2010.