New Delhi: The
countdown to Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh hanging up his
boots May 31 began Saturday with his first farewell visit to the
Western Command headquarters in Chandimandir.
The general will be in Chandimandir till Sunday before returning
to Delhi Monday, sources in the army headquarters said here.
It is customary for army chiefs and top commanders to go on
farewell visits to key formations before their retirement when
they get the opportunity to interact with troopers and officers.
Gen. Singh, after over 40 years of service, will turn 62 May 10 as
per his service record and retire May 31, paving way for army
chief-designate Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh to take over the reins of
the 1.13-million-strong Indian Army.
The 22-month tenure of Gen. V.K. Singh, which began March 31,
2010, has been acrimonious over his attempts to get his birth date
amended in service records, for which he even dragged the central
government to the Supreme Court in January this year.
He could not succeed in getting the court to rule in his favour
and had to contend with his birth date in service records
remaining May 10, 1950 instead of May 10, 1951.
However, the government and the court refrained from questioning
the veracity of his other records such as birth certificate,
school leaving certificate, and passport that maintain his birth
date as May 10,1951.
If the plea had been accepted, it would have given the general
another 10 months as army chief and he would have retired in March
This would have upset the chain of succession in the army, which
is decided on the basis of seniority at the time of the incumbent
Just ahead of his plea before the court, Gen. Singh, during his
press conference January 14 on the eve of Army Day, had said that
he "did not know" if this was his last Army Day as the chief.
He did not have to wait long. In March, the army issued him a
retirement warning letter and within a week, the government named
Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh, the Kolkata-based eastern army commander,
as his successor.
However, the tumult in Gen. V.K. Singh's tenure as chief did not
end with the age row.
He dropped a bombshell during an interview that he was offered by
a bribe of Rs.14 crore to clear a deal for 600 Tatra trucks by a
retired army officer and that he had informed Defence Minister A.K.
Antony about it.
This rocked the parliament and Antony had to order a CBI probe
into the allegations, apart from giving an explanation.
As if this was not enough came a media report claiming that the
general might have mobilised two key army units from Hisar and
Agra towards New Delhi on the intervening night of January 16/17
The report dropped hints that it might have been a coup attempt
that was thwarted by an alert government. The report was dismissed
by the government and the army.
Since then, the cold vibes in corridors of South Block, seat of
the defence ministry, seems to have come down.