The government has denied a report that a senior officer in the Cabinet Secretariat leaked Army Chief General VK Singh's confidential letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on shortage of equipment and ammunition in March this year. But the BJP is all set to launch an attack on the issue in Parliament; it is likely to seek a clarification.
An official statement said, "The government denies that there is any truth in the PTI report on the alleged leak of General VK Singh's letter to the Prime Minister. The story is completely baseless."
The Press Trust of India had quoted sources to say that a Joint Secretary-rank officer in the Cabinet Secretariat had been found responsible for leaking the Army Chief's letter. The report said that the officer had been shunted out.
In his letter written to the PM in March this year, the Army Chief had highlighted the critical shortage of equipment and ammunition in artillery and armoured regiments.
The BJP has found more ammunition to take on the government and is unlikely to let the matter rest with that government statement. Party sources said top leaders would meet today to strategise how best to use the issue for political advantage.
"A secret letter written to the PM by the Army Chief, is a very serious matter. And if the report can leak from Cabinet Secretariat then it's a very serious issue. If this can happen than security of this country is in God's hands. Either PM should give satisfactory explanation about this incident and if he doesn't have one than he should quit immediately," BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Balbir Punj said yesterday.
The Army Chief's relationship with the Defence Ministry had crashed and burned over his demand that the government accept his date of birth as 1951 and not 1950. Had the government agreed, it would have affected when the chief was to retire. But the government said it could not amend the chief's records and General Singh became the first serving chief to take the government to court. In February, he withdrew his petition in the Supreme Court after judges indicated they would not be able to accept his arguments.
In March, General VK Singh had alleged that he was offered a bribe to clear 'sub-standard' trucks for the Army. The CBI is probing the matter.