Congress sought the resignation of Union minister VK Singh on Tuesday, saying the NDA government's affidavit in the Supreme Court on the issue of Army vice chief Dalbir Singh Suhag's promotion was an expression of "no confidence" in him.
"This minister cannot remain in the Council of Ministers. It's a matter of detail whether he is removed or he resigns," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters at the AICC briefing.
Singh, a former Army Chief had a running battle with the UPA II government over a controversy on his date of birth. Incidentally, he is the first minister whose resignation is sought by the Opposition since the BJP government was formed a fortnight ago.
The Congress' pitch for removal of Singh as minister came as the government has told the Supreme Court that the alleged lapses which were made as grounds to impose disciplinary ban on Suhag by Singh between April and May 2012 were "premeditated", "vague" and "illegal". Ministry of Defence, in its affidavit to the apex court said that the disciplinary proceedings against Suhag was "without any basis or material on record".
Singhvi said this is a "direct vote of no-confidence by the government describing the action of its own minister as 'illegal', 'extraneous' and 'premeditated. How is it possible for a minister to continue in the Council of Ministers of the same government, which expressed such categorical no confidence against him," he asked.
"After that only one option is there that he no longer remains in the ministry."
Singhvi said that people of the country and the nation want to know whether a minister would continue to hold his office after all these.
"If anything wrong is furnished in an affidavit before the Supreme Court, it amounts to perjury (intentional act of swearing a false oath) and can have serious consequence," the Congress spokesperson said.
The government affidavit came in response to a plea of Lt Gen Ravi Dastane alleging favouritism in the selection of Suhag as the Army commander who will succeed the Army chief. VK Singh is a minister of state (Independent charge) in the Narendra Modi government and holds the DoNER, External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs portfolios.