As the cold war between Army chief-of-staff Gen Vijay Kumar Singh and defence minister A K Antony continues, it is reported that the Army chief will today challenge the version of events claimed by the minister over Singh's allegation that he was offered a Rs14 crore bribe to sanction the purchase of sub-standard vehicles.
Antony had said yesterday that he had urged Gen Singh to take action after the kickback offer was reported to him in 2010, but the Army chief, after blowing the whistle, refused to pursue the matter further. The minister also said he did not initiate an investigation because Gen Singh did not submit a complaint in writing.
According to NDTV, sources close to the army chief say that he took whatever action he could. The lobbyist who allegedly visited him in his office and offered the money was Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh, according to the Army chief. He allegedly wanted Gen Singh to clear the purchase of 600 "substandard" Tatra trucks that are used to transport artillery and troops.
Gen Tejinder Singh has hit back with a criminal defamation suit against his former superior officer. He says he had not offered the army chief any money and that their meeting focused on his possible nomination as the head of the NTRO.
According to NDTV, Gen Singh's supporters say that he did not sanction the appointment. They also say that the C-in-C did not allow the Army to buy a new consignment of trucks from BEML, a defence public sector undertaking that supplies Tatra trucks and other equipment to the Army.
Though Tejinder Singh has denied offering the chief any money, a tape recording of the conversation reportedly exists. The Central Bureau of Investigation, which was ordered on Monday to investigate the controversy, has denied that it received this tape on Tuesday. It's not clear who recorded the meeting between the two generals; but PTI cites sources to state that the Army chief can be heard shouting on the tape.