No rift with government on age issue: Army chief

New Delhi : Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh has denied that he was at loggerheads with the defence ministry over his age and said it was a personal issue.

“I think the issue is being played around too much. There is no controversy between the ministry of defence and me. There is no fight between the ministry of defence and me,” Singh told NDTV in an interview, days after media reports that the army chief may take the matter to the Supreme Court.

He said the differences between him and the ministry over his age were “perceptional” only.

“It is totally a personal issue and it is only concerning me and not the rest of the army,” the general said.

The army chief’s age row escalated after the defence ministry Dec 30 rejected his statutory complaint that would have given him 10 more months of active service.

Singh had pleaded for changing his date of birth from May 10, 1950, to May 10, 1951, in all official records. The controversy stemmed from different sets of records in the adjutant general and military secretary branches of the Indian Army headquarters.

While the adjutant general’s branch, which deals with pay, perks and pensions, maintains 1951 as his year of birth, the military secretary branch, which deals with appointments and promotions, has 1950 as the year of birth in its records.

The army chief said the matter was not affecting any decision-making as far as the Indian Army was concerned.

“I would like to assure you that as far as I am concerned it is not transcending in any way into the army. We are as prepared… as good as we were yesterday or as well prepared as we will be tomorrow. It is not any way affecting my decisions or that of people under my command.”

Asked if the issue was hampering decision from the ministry side, he said: “I don’t find any effect out there. I am quite sure we have a team there as well as the minister.”

He stressed that the matter had not caused any rift between the Indian Army and the ministry. “There is no rift between me and the ministry. We are as cordial as we have ever been. If you have seen signs of any rift I don’t know. But personally I have not seen any sign of rift.”

Asked if he thought his honour had been put at stake, Singh said: “Integrity is an issue which I have flagged. And it’s totally a personal issue… Each one of us hold on to that particular value. It is not just me.”

He said he had no clue when the issue would be resolved. “I don’t know, I have got no clue. Nor do I want to comment on it.”

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