The cold war between the government and Army chief-of-staff Gen V K Singh continues, as defence minister A K Antony said he had asked the general to take action on his latest allegation of being approached with a bribe offer for vehicle purchases, but the Army chief refused to pursue the matter.
Making a suo motu statement in the Rajya Sabha, Antony agreed that Gen Singh had informed him of the incident more than a year ago; though he had no exact recall of the date.
Recalling the scenario, the minister said when the Army chief had told him that a retired senior officer, Lt-Gen Tejinder Singh, had met him and offered a bribe for sanctioning Army purchases, "I was shocked ... it took me one or two minutes to regain my composure. Then I told him to take action; but he told me 'I do not want to pursue it'. I don't know why he did not want to pursue it at that time," Antony said.
The allegations of the Army chief led to speculation by observers, including former top Army brass, on why Antony had not ordered an immediate investigation when the matter was brought to his notice by Gen Singh.
Antony assured the House that action would be taken against the guilty, however powerful they may be, and pointed out that he had already ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter. (See: Antony orders CBI probe into Army chief's bribe allegation)
The minister also said that Gen Tejinder Singh, alleged by the Army chief to be the person who offered him Rs14 crore to sanction the purchase of substandard vehicles, was not in service when he allegedly offered V K Singh the chief the money.