Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who is tipped to succeed Gen VK Singh as the army chief, will have his hands full when he assumes office at the helm in June next year. He will have to take decisions on several pending defence contracts.
The army is set to place its largest orders for Howitzers, infantry rifles, etc and defence contract lobby is very strong in the country —lobbying has reportedly begun already for these lucrative contracts.
The announcement of his appointment seems imminent after defence minister A K Antony ended the controversy over Gen VK Singh’s date of birth on Thursday. The minister announced the General’s birth year as 1950 — which means VK Singh will retire in June 2012.
Sources say Antony called up Gen VK Singh to his office on Friday afternoon and informed him about the decision.
Lt Gen Bikram Singh, who is current posted in Kolkata, is
considered close to the Prime minister’s office.
Former army chief General Deepak Kapoor had initiated the date of birth controversy.
When he was the Army chief, Kapoor reportedly called VK Singh to his cabin and ordered him to accept his date of birth as 10th May 1950.
Kapoor’s name surfaced in the Adarsh Society scam and he was indicted by an army court of enquiry.
The Army’s Military Secretary Branch record shows VK Singh’s date birth as May 10, 1950, while the Adjutant General’s Branch has been taking 1951 as his birth year on the basis of his Matriculation certificate.
It is also alleged that Lt Gen Awdesh Prasad was behind VK Singh’s date of birth controversy and on his hints an NGO raised the issue. Prasad is facing a general court martial for his involvement in the Sukna land scam.
The defence ministry had asked for the Law Ministry’s advice on the controversy. But the ministry didn’t accept the law ministry’s recommendation and later sought attorney general GE Vahananvati’s advice.
The attorney general advised against accepting the date of birth claimed by VK Singh as it would jeopardize the succession and seniority. This advice became the base of the decision.