A political storm erupted today over former Army Chief VK Singh's remark that money was paid to Ministers in Jammu and Kashmir with Congress and ally National Conference calling it "irresponsible" and demanding he reveal the names amid a call for a CBI probe.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said government was ready to probe if beneficiaries were identified, a day after Gen(retd) Singh said that "certain ministers" in J&K are given money by the Army for "stability" and that this has been going on since Independence.
"VK Singh should name politicians. He should reveal the names (of those to whom money was allegedly paid). If details are given, we can investigate," Shinde said.
Farooq Abdullah, President of J&K's ruling NC, demanded a CBI probe into the allegations made by Singh. "I think time has come when a CBI inquiry should be held immediately to see what is the funding that the Army has done and who are the people that received these funds and how these funds have been utilised," he said.
Singh's remark drew a sharp reaction from the Congress with former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad expressing shock and a party spokesman slamming him for his "irresponsible" statement. "I think it's a very, very terrible statement that he has made. It must be investigated. The Army has nothing to do with funding of political parties. They should never do this. The Army should be kept apolitical," said Azad, a Union Minister. "And if he has done that, he has done something extremely wrong."
Azad said he was shocked to hear about Singh's remark since he himself has been a Chief Minister of J&K. "I have no knowledge about this and I am as curious as you are to know about the names of the persons who were being paid and who are being paid," he added.
Congress spokesperson PC Chacko said "irresponsible" statements from Singh brought "disgrace" to the Army. "What he has said, I do not think he himself can prove it," Chacko said, adding, "Even a retired general is a general. He should not be making such statements." Union Minister Rajiv Shukla said Singh's remark was not in national interest and that persons, who have held such high positions like Army Chief should not make such statements after retirement without any substance.
J&K Sports minister and state Congress leader Taj Mohiuddin dared the former Army chief to name the ministers who were given funds.