Antony, Army chief end cold war

 Ten days after the Supreme Court asked Army Chief V K Singh to withdraw his age dispute petition against the government, Defence Minister A K Antony met Singh here on Tuesday amid indication that Singh may be allowed to complete his tenure and retire on May 31, 2012 as decided earlier by the government.

Who will have the last laugh? Defence Minister A K Antony (right) and Army Chief General V K Singh at a function in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Antony met Singh at an official function in the South Block in which Command Hospital in Bangalore received an award as the best hospital, from the defence minister.

Both shared a hearty laugh when the minister jokingly remarked that Singh was quite tense before his departure to London but must be relieved by now.

On his part, the Army chief briefed the defence minister about his trip to the UK. During his official trip, Singh visited the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and an Elite Special Air Service unit at Hereford where he was briefed on British Special Forces operations.
Navy Chief Adm Nirmal Verma and Defence Secretary Sashikant Sharma were present at the function at the South Block.

The public posturing by Antony and Singh comes days before issuing of formal retirement warning letter to the Army Chief by the Military Secretary branch in the army headquarters.

The RWL triggers the official retirement process for the incumbent Army Chief. Though the RWL is issued months in advance, the MS branch could not issue it to Singh because of the raging dispute on his year of birth.

In an unprecedented move, Singh took the government to the court seeking to change his year of birth in official records.

The government also set in motion a process to select the new chief among the senior Army commanders.

The forerunner in the race is the Eastern Army commander who – following the protocol – met Antony during the defence minister's trip to Arunachal Pradesh on Monday.

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