New Delhi, Mar 28: Army Chief Gen V K Singh's leaked letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presenting a grim picture of the force's state of preparedness led to demands by SP and RJD for his dismissal even as Government and Opposition were agreed his concerns should not have come out in the open.
As the opposition parties expressed as much concern over the media leak of the letter as its contents, BJP said the contents are “scary”. Congress advocated a cautious approach to the demand for dismissal saying it was not an answer.
There was a strong demand to launch a probe how the letter was leaked to the media. It was also felt that the Army Chief should have first raised his concerns on the risk to the country's security directly with the Defence Minister.
Former Army Chiefs Gen V P Malik and Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhury too voiced concern over the leak and the contents.
“It is a matter of great great concern...no wonder Pakistan must be laughing all the way.” said Gen Chowdhury.
Gen Malik said given the nature of sensitive issues raised by Gen Singh it should not have been made public.
Union Minister Vayalar Ravi slammed the Army Chief saying his outburst reflected “frustrations” of an individual, who had to withdraw his petition on the age row in the Supreme Court.
“The Army is a disciplined force. (He) could not get an extension even by the court. May be a frustrated man's utterance,” Ravi told reporters.
Terming the development as very “serious and sensitive”, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav demanded sacking of the Army Chief, a view shared by RJD supremo Lalu Prasad.
“He (General) should be sacked immediately. Why he was silent all these days if there was shortage of ammunition,” Lalu said.
Union Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said the Army Chief has his own “anxieties” and the matter is not for public debate.
Raju at the same time accepted there are gaps in the capability of the Armed Forces and that the Defence Ministry will take cognizance of the concerns expressed by Gen Singh and will address those issues.
“Whatever he has written, we will definitely take cognizance of the fact, but I guess as a Chief he has his own anxieties and it is something not for public debate.”
Describing the Army Chief as a “frustrated” man, Lalu said, “He should remain within his limits.”
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said, “It has never happened in the last 63 years. We are very concerned over the development. This is a very serious issue and whatever is happening is not good.”
BJP said the leaked letter showed the equilibrium between the Defence Ministry and the Army has been disturbed” and pitched for modernisation of the forces which appear to have suffered.
“The contents of the army chief's letter are scary. When the common man reads that the defence forces have no ammunition and cannot defend the country he finds it scary,” Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters.
Noting that the Army Chief's letter has pointed out “the indecision on part of Government”, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said, “Our defence is suffering because of indecision and that is what we condemn.”
“It becomes more serious when the Army chief himself tells that the situation is worsening day by day,” he said.
BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said the Prime Minister and Defence Minister should explain what steps have been taken to tackle the situation.
“This is a serious and sensitive issue. It will affect the morale of the armed forces. Now the secret letter has been made public so we want the government should take Parliament into confidence and PM and Defence Minister should tell what follow-up actions have been taken to control the situation,” Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.