Don’t hype army chief’s age row, says Congress

New Delhi, Jan 17 (IANS) The Congress Tuesday said attempts by the opposition to play up the row over army chief General V.K. Singh’s year of birth was not in national interest.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the matter was between the Supreme Court, the army chief and the defence ministry.
He said Gen. Singh had clearly stated that it was a “personal issue related to service record”.
“If the opposition deliberately wants to make it a big issue, it will not be in the country’s interest. Giving twist to the issue will be wrong,” Singhvi said in response to queries from reporters.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said it was Gen. Singh’s right to move court.
“Every human being has a right to seek justice if he feels he has been denied justice and in that sense it is (the) right of every Indian,” Soni told reporters here.
However, the minister refused a direct comment over the controversy, saying “if he has gone to the court, I am not a person to comment”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday accused the government of “failure” in handling the issue.
Gen. Singh moved the Supreme Court Monday after the defence ministry in December rejected his statutory complaint, requesting change of year of his birth in official records to 1951 from 1950.
The government Tuesday requested the apex court to hear its version before passing any order on the case.
Congress sources said the government could not have prevented Gen. Singh from moving court, though it would have informally advised him against such a course through back-channel diplomacy.
“It is unfortunate but it is fact of life,” a party leader said on Gen. Singh’s decision to move court, a first for an army chief in independent India.
Congress leaders said the government had taken legal opinion three times in a bid to put the controversy to rest.
They also denied that Gen. Singh’s decision to move court will affect the party’s prospects among ex-servicemen in poll-bound states.