Congress, BJP slugfest over Gen. V.K. Singh

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) A slugfest started between the Congress and the BJP Friday over reports of misuse of secret service funds by former Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh with the main opposition terming it political vendetta, and the Congress denying it.

The Left chose not to link the report and the politics over it.

The defence ministry said it had not taken any decision yet.

"It is not on the merit of the issue that the government is trying to initiate a CBI probe against retired Gen V.K. Singh. It is clearly a fallout of his going and sharing the dais with Narendra Modi and hailing him as a leader," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Balbir Punj said.

"The government may go ahead with its political vendetta, but the people of India will give it a good reply. This is a clear case of political vendetta, there is nothing more to it," Punj said.

General V.K. Singh had participated in an ex-servicemen's rally addressed by the BJP's prime ministerial nominee and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Sep 15 at Rewari, in Haryana, 89 km from Delhi.

The Congress denied BJP's charge.

"He has not been arrested, nothing has happened, only Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia has submitted a report and said there should be a probe by an agency like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The government has not decided anything nor taken any steps," Congress leader Rashid Alvi said.

"It is not possible that if a person belongs to the opposition party or has ties with a leader who has been declared as the prime ministerial candidate, action should not be taken against him. Law will take its own course," he said.

The report is "under the active consideration of the government" and appropriate action would be initiated against the guilty, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said.

"These (newspaper reports) are under the active consideration of the government," Tewari told reporters here.

"If at all any maleficence is found against any serving or retired officer, appropriate action would be initiated by the government," he said.

The Left chose not to link the report and the politics over it, saying it was a national security issue.

Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta said: "I would not link it with any political development. The issue is more important because it concerns the defence and security of the country."

He, however, questioned the delay in taking action, on the part of the government. "If the army had sent the report to the defence ministry, why has it been put on hold for a long time? The whole thing speaks of severe laxity and ignoring the interest of the nation," Dasgupta said.

According to a report published in a newspaper, Gen. Singh allegedly misused the secret funds to destabilise the Jammu and Kashmir government and to pay off a non-governmental organisation to try and change the line of succession in the army top brass, among others.

"The report impinges on matters of national security and, as such, the government will take a decision and further action after a careful examination of the report," a ministry of defence statement said.

The defence ministry clarified that no decision had been taken for a CBI inquiry in the matter.

The media report was based on a secret Board of Officers inquiry report into the functioning of the Technical Services Division (TDS) under the Corps of Military Intelligence.

The report had called for bringing TDS under the CBI scanner.