Age row created deliberately: V.K. Singh
New Delhi – Former Army chief Gen V.K. Singh, in his autobiography released recently, has taken a swipe at his predecessors over his age controversy and claimed it was done deliberately to cut short his career.
V.K. Singh’s last few months in office saw a legal tussle with the government concerning his age.
In his autobiography “Courage and Conviction”, the former Army chief has written that Gen J.J. Singh — chief of army staff from Jan 31, 2005 to Sep 30, 2007 — had initiated a “look down policy” to clear the way for his choice to become army chief.
He said the age issue was created deliberately to truncate his career and there were others who had been systematically targeted.
He said Gen J.J. Singh took over as COAS (chief of army staff) in January 2005 and his tenure was to run till the end of September 2007.
“It is now an established fact that Gen J.J. Singh had, within months of taking charge, initiated the ‘look down policy’ that would give a clear idea as to what the line of succession would, or could be,” he said.
V.K. Singh said the “look down policy” allowed every officer above the rank of brigadier to work out his list where the next three of four chiefs could be predicted.
“But the only list that mattered was the chief’s own list, for as COAS he could tweak events to clear the way for his choice immediately after me, provided I become chief,” V.K. Singh said.
“At this stage, it was probably brought to J.J. Singh’s notice that if he could truncate my tenure as chief to a two-year period, the path could be cleared for the officer of his choice to take over in 2012,” he said.
“A bit of deft manoeuvring was needed to remove impediments from the path of the officer on whom the chief had his eye. Among those who would have to be ‘fixed’ were Brigadiers Padam Budhwar and M.M. Chowdhary, followed by Major Generals Sujan Chatterjee, A.K. Singh and Ravi Arora and finally, me.”
“While all the others had to be “fixed’ in their brigadier and major general boards, or by delaying tactics that allowed the designated favourite to overtake them, in overall scheme of things, it was probably an imperative that I become the chief but only for a limited period,” he said.
V.K. Singh had maintained in his communications that his date of birth was May 10, 1951 as per school leaving certificate. The government decided it to be May 10, 1950. He has mentioned in the book that the Military Secretary’s branch had informed the UPSC form filled by him for commission in the armed forces reflected the year of birth as 1950.
“It would emerge that not only had my age issue been created deliberately to truncate my career in the army, first at the army commander level and then as the chief, but there had been others too who had been deliberately and systematically targeted,” he said.
V.K Singh also claimed in the book that his immediate predecessor Gen Deepak Kapoor had asked him to accept May 10, 1950 as his date of birth to get the file cleared from the Defence Ministry.