Turning down the heat: Army chief calls on V K Singh

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 14 2014, 14:29pm hrs
In what is being seen as a initiative to cut the acrimony between Minister of State V K Singh and the Army that he used to lead, serving Army Chief General Bikram Singh reached out to his predecessor Friday, meeting him in the Ministry for Development of Northeast Region to discuss matters of mutual interest.

The meeting, which lasted almost half an hour, took place after the recent unpleasantness over VK SInghs controversial remarks against top officer Lt Gen Dalbir Singh who is set to take over as the next Army Chief in the end of July.

Sources close to Gen Bikram Singh said that the officer called upon the minister as a matter of courtesy and to discuss the development of the N-E region where the Army has significant presence. Gen Bikram Singh also offered Army assistance to implement development projects in the states.

Sources said the meeting was the personal initiative of the Army chief who wished to greet his predecessor and pass on his best wishes for his new innings as a Central minister in the government.

Incidentally, Gen Bikram Singh also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the morning to give him a war room briefing on the operational preparedness of the Army. However, officials said that it has no connection to the meeting with V K Singh, insisting that it was a personal initiative of the chief. Gen Bikram Singh has met several ministers over the past few days, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, said a senior Army officer.

Days ago, V K Singhs comments accusing Lt Gen Dalbir Singh of protecting troops who in his words committed dacoity and killed innocents, came after The Indian Express reported that the BJP government, in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, had called V K Singhs action as the Army Chief against Dalbir Singh in 2012 illegal and premeditated.

Sources said neither touched upon internal matters of the Army related to succession and postings.

As reported, following V K Singhs tweet against the Army chief-designate, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley made it clear in Parliament that the governments appointment of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh as the next chief is final and that it fully stands for it. This came amid calls for V K Singhs resignation by the Congress.