Oppn demands probe into allegations

Bribe gate: BJP asks govt to disclose identity of bribe giver

BJP leader Jaswant Singh on Monday demanded to know the steps undertaken by Defence Minister A K Anthony to disclose the identity of the “bribe giver” and secure his arrest, after Army chief V K Singh brought to Anthony’s notice that he was offered bribe.

Singh said the English daily’s interview with the army chief raises “serious concerns” over national secuirty.

He said the incident also highlights corruption in the adminsitration, “rising number of court martial on this acount” and “combat effectiveness of the equipment of the services.”

“It is a matter of great concern that the Army chief has himself commented on the shocking state of affairs in the Army, that a bribe was offered to him, that people had taken money before and the offer was made by somebody who had recently retired from the Army,” said Singh, who was himself the defence minister in 2000-01.

Singh was referring to the part of the Army chief’s interview that details “sub standard vehicles, several thousands of which are already in use having been sold at exorbitant prices, with no proper facilities for servicing and maintenance.”

Singh also questioned why did the army chief himself not blow the whistle at that very juncture. The BJP leader demanded to know from the defence minister about army chief's accusations that he was being “targetted” as he had “cracked down on corruption.”

Singh also alleged that Anthony’s “inaction” and “indecisiveness” were proving extremely costly for the country.

Reacting on the issue, another BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said, “Both the defence minister and the Army chief should have acted immediately. It is a criminal act and nobody should be allowed to go scot free after offering a bribe.”

Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta questioned the Army Chief for not going public at the time he was offered the alleged bribe and demanded an independent enquiry instead of a CBI probe.

“All these days he was quiet. After a decision on his age was taken, now he is saying all these. Why did he not say it before?” Dasgupta said.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the “right tradition and convention” established in political parties is “not commenting on Army and Defence matters,” especially something concerning the Army Chief.  Singhvi however asserted that the Defence Ministry will look into the matter if a complaint is lodged.

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