New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) Former Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh, whose autobiography claims that a “very senior bureaucrat” in the PMO had orchestrated the row over his age, has said he does not know the name of the individual concerned.
His assertions about the official in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in his newly-released autobiography “Courage and Conviction” were based on the grapevine and information on how various things were happening.
“If I knew the name, I would have written (in the book). I don’t know the name… Based on what I heard, based on various things (that) were going on, what the the grapevine said, you can make out what is happening. You can see how certain segments of media were being orchestrated. So it pointed out to somebody senior enough who could do things,” Gen. Singh told IANS in an interview.
Asked why he had not specifically pointed a finger at a very senior bureaucrat in the book, Gen. Singh said he does not yet have concrete proof about the person.
“Yeah, I may have a finger on it, but it is my feeling. When I have concrete proof, I will take out his name,” he said.
Asked if the entire PMO was involved or only the individual he has talked about in the book, Gen. Singh said he does not know what PMO is all about.
“I never dealt with PMO. I dealt with the prime minister of India. It is like this, if you are dealing with the deputy commissioner you go and meet him. You do not talk to his clerks.”
“I said somebody was involved. Whether he had accomplices, whether he didn’t have, I really don’t know,” he added.
Gen. Singh’s last few months in office saw a legal tussle with the government concerning his age. Gen. Singh has written in considerable detail about the age row in the book.
“There was little doubt that a very senior bureaucrat in the PMO had been was orchestrating the entire age issue. Ever since I blocked the Tatra files, the name of the person had been cropping up regularly. Not only was he involved directly with the PSUs where the direct evidence linking him to plots given to his family in the BEML complex almost every move of the government seemed to have originated from the same shadowy quarters,” Gen. Singh said in the book.
The book said that the senior bureaucrat “was also dropping hints that the age issue had been raked up by one of the former chiefs at the behest of the wife of a very important political personality.”
Referring to the controversy, Gen. Singh said that he has described in the book what actually happened and “in hindsight, what I felt”.
“There are things which have come about which should never have come about”, he added.
Asked why the age row erupted, he said, “This you should ask people who would have done it (Laughs).”
“I have tried to explain. What in hindsight I felt. Some machinations were in place for certain things,” he said.
Gen. Singh has maintained that his date of birth was May 10, 1951, as per his school-leaving certificate. The government decided it to be May 10, 1950. Gen. Singh has mentioned in the book that the Military Secretary branch had informed that the UPSC form filled by him for for the NDA entrance exam reflected his year of birth as 1950.
He said that as far as he was concerned, there was no controversy over his age.”
“The UPSC application form, which is only meant for the examination, says in its note that if there is a difference between certificate that you submit and what you have filled in the application form and if that difference is not explained properly, you will not go to NDA. ”
“The very fact that they allowed me to go to NDA after seeing the explanation, it means the controversy was over. Where was the controversy? So far as I was concerned there was no controversy,” Gen. Singh said.
“After 36 years, if you pull out the UPSC form and say you had written 1950 in that. See the (school) certificate. Everything is dependent on that. Your service record starts when you enter the service,” he said.
In the book, Gen. Singh claims that his immediate predecessor, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, had asked him to accept May 10, 1950, as his date of birth to get his promotion file cleared from the defence ministry and had said the issue will be subsequently sorted out.
Gen V. K. Singh has penned the book with writer and filmmaker Kunal Verma.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at [email protected])