Let’s remain secular and apolitical: New Army Chief

Bikram Singh said that the Army has to continue to be seen as a secular and apolitical force

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: June 2, 2012 3:08 am

In his first comments after taking over as the 25th Army Chief,General Bikram Singh resonated what Defence Minister A K Antony told his officers on Thursday,at the end of the controversial tenure of Gen V K Singh — the need to look ahead.

Calling for a return to “core values,” General Bikram Singh said that the Army has to continue to be seen as a secular and apolitical force that is the “most accountable” element of national power. While making it clear that no controversy would be brushed under the carpet,Singh said that all happenings of the past must be left behind.

“A car is driven by seeing ahead through the windscreen and not through the rear view mirror. My issue is that whatever has happened should be left behind and we should drive looking through the windscreen in taking the army ahead,” the new Army Chief said when asked to comment on Antony’s advice to top officials,emphasising that the “bitterness” of the past eight months should not come in the way of relations between the army and the government.

The minister had also admitted that relations with the army had gone through a “turbulent phase.” Taking a few questions after a traditional guard of honour on the controversies that surrounded the Army in the past few months and his game plan,Gen Bikram Singh said: “Let us put our best foot forward. Let us continue to remain a secular force,an apolitical force and continue to do the job as it is supposed to be done”.

Incidentally,the petition against his appointment — by those sympathetic to the outgoing chief — in the Supreme Court was called “communal” by the government.

While refraining from making any comments on his predecessor,General Singh said that his aim is to ensure that the Army remains the “most accountable,most responsible and most worthy element of national power”. On the tension in civil-military relations,the officer said that he was certain that there will be no problems.

“I have had five tenures in Army Headquarters and this will be the sixth one. We have had no problems in the past at least. Let me see what the problems are and we will take it forward. I am certain that given the wisdom on both sides,given the commitment on both sides,I am sure that there will be no problems,” he said.

On a range of questions over recent controversies like the officer-jawan clash at Nyoma and allegations of a fake encounter in Assam,the General said that nothing would be “brushed under the carpet” and we would deal with such matter “as per the rule book”.

The officer refused to get dragged into contentious issues like the withdrawal of the AFSPA from certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The officer said that the army “has given its views on the matter to the government and it is up to the government to take a decision”.

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