The Army Chief, General V.K. Singh, has alleged that an equipment lobbyist offered him a bribe of Rs. 14 crore, which he reported to Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony.
In a recent interview to The Hindu, General Singh spoke on a variety of issues, including the controversy surrounding his date of birth and the “shocking” state of affairs in the Army which had allowed the Chief to be offered a bribe.
The General said the lobbyist offered him the bribe in order to have a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles of a particular make cleared for purchase. He said the vehicles, 7,000 of which were already in use in the Army, had been sold over the years at exorbitant prices with no questions asked. He said there was no proper facility where they could be serviced and maintained and yet they continued to be sold to the Army: “Just imagine, one of these men had the gumption to walk up to me and tell me that if I cleared the tranche, he would give me Rs. 14 crore. He was offering a bribe to me, to the Army Chief. He told me that people had taken money before me and they will take money after me.”
The Army chief said the brazenness of the act shocked him out of his wits. “I was shocked. If somebody comes and tells you, you will get so much, what can you do?” He said the man had recently retired from the Army, indicating how deeply entrenched the problem was.
The General said he went straight to Mr. Antony and reported the matter. “I told him, if you think I’m a misfit, I will walk out.”
Asked what had brought the Army to the state where the Chief could be offered a bribe, he said: “Obviously somewhere our standards of probity and integrity have fallen.”
According to General Singh, it was because he had cracked down on corruption that he was targeted on his date of birth: “But things are fast unravelling and you will soon see the hand behind the drama. You will soon see who the sutradhar of the play is.”