Questioning the "silence" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the controversy surrounding Union Minister V K Singh, Congress on Wednesday demanded quick action from the government on the issue and slammed the former General for his remarks against the Army chief-designate.
"The Prime Minister must interfere. We expected him to answer on it in Parliament. But the PM has chosen to say nothing on the subject. The Prime Minister has kept mum...what action will now be taken against the minister, who is questioning the correctness and authenticity of the affidavit filed by his own government?
"It is Constitutional, moral and legal responsibility of the PM to take action against the minister," party spokesperson Randip Surjewala told reporters at the AICC briefing.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament, senior party leader M Veerappa Moily said the remarks of Singh, against the Army chief-designate were unbecoming of a minister and a former General, and Prime Minister should "censure" him.
At the AICC briefing, Surjewala rued that Singh as the Army Chief was "engaged in controversies" in past now after becoming a minister he is raising doubts about his own government. "Knowing that the statements of Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley are contradictory on an important and sensitive issue like Army, the Prime Minister of the country should proceed to clarify as also to initiate action.
"...If the Defence minister is wrong, action should be taken against him and if V K Singh is wrong then he should face it," the Congress spokesperson said posing over half a dozen questions to the government on the issue.
Alleging that BJP and its minister are resorting to politicising a great neutral and secular institution like Indian Army by making highly "contentious, irresponsible and contradictory" statements, Surjewala said Singh's way of questioning the position of the next Army Chief through tweets and remarks "reeks of personal vendetta".
Surjewala said that Singh's latest tweet questioning the validity, authenticity and even correctness of affidavit filed by the defence ministry lends the position of the defence ministry and defence minister untenable. "We have also heard the defence minister Arun Jaitley saying in the Rajya Sabha that the appointment of Lt Gen Suhag as next Army Chief is final and government stands by it.
"In the light of these comments, tweets and remarks made by Gen V K Singh questioning the authenticity of the affidavit filed by Government, there are some pertinent questions that Government must answer. Such comments shred into pieces the principal of collective responsibility," the Congress spokesperson said.
He asked whether the affidavit filed by the defence ministry is incorrect and if so whether a contempt of the Supreme Court has been committed. "If the affidavit is correct, does it mean that the action initiated by Singh and justified by him till date were false and premeditated? Whether V K Singh disagrees with the stand taken by his own government in the Supreme Court and what are the reasons for his vociferous opposition through media thus violating the principle of collective responsibility of the Cabinet?
Surjewala said that whether his comments put the defence ministry's decision under cloud or whether Singh has lost faith in his own government and ministry. "...These comments also reflect certain lack of mutual trust and confidence in the very beginning of the government," he said.
Moily said,"this is totally unbecoming of a Union minister and of course unbecoming of an ex-General because after all our army has been built with such a sincerity, levels of highest standards of discipline and restraint".
Moily said that Singh, after becoming a minister, should not indulge in such talk and that the Prime Minister should "censure" him.
Moily was asked about the comments made by Singh justifying the decision during his tenure as Army Chief for imposition of a disciplinary ban on Lt-Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who has been named as the next Army Chief.
"If unit kills innocents, does dacoity and then head of organisation tries to protect them, should he not be blamed? Criminals should go free!!," Singh had tweeted.
His remark came after the Defence ministry told the Supreme Court in a recent affidavit in a promotion case related to Lt Gen Ravi Dastane that the alleged lapses which were made as grounds to impose disciplinary ban on Suhag by the then army chief V K Singh were "premeditated", "vague" and "illegal".