Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Who is Lt-Gen Tejinder Singh? (Sunday Guardian)

Lt-General Tejinder Singh (L)
hose involved in the making of purchases for security agencies under the Home Ministry or the PMO say that retired Lt-General Tejinder Singh,who has been explicitly accused by the Army of having floated reports that Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh spied on Defense Minister A K Antony, is not an unknown figure within the world of suppliers of equipment. One source said that Tejinder Singh "operates in tandem with a Major Hooda (retd) and his son, both of whom are well known to Karthik Chidambaram,the influential son of Home Minister P Chidambaram". The younger Hooda, a presumed relative of the Haryana Chief Minister, is alleged to be "active in promoting the products of certain agencies, including foreign entities". These sources claim that Tejinder Singh was very close to a former Chief of Army Staff and that he "knows the incoming Chief of Army Staff,Lt-General Bikramjit Singh, very well". None of these claims could be verified,especially suggestions that a such link "could influence procurement decisions by the Army in the future". General V K Singh is known to have had a series of battles with established cartels involved in military procurement,unlike some of his predecessors,who "played along with such elements". That the incoming Chief of Army Staff has very powerful support within the UPA was made clear by the government's decision to announce that he would succeed General V K Singh,even if the latter were to quit prematurely. It needs to be said that Lt-General Bikramjit Singh is widely regarded as a capable officer,with an excellent record in counter-insurgency operations.
Surprisingly,the CBI has thus far not shown any interest in investigating the many allegations that Lt-General Tejinder Singh,Major Hooda and others are involved in efforts to influence procurement decisions in the Home and Defense Ministries,besides those in NTRO,RAW and the Aviation Research Service. Reports of suspicious transactions in these agencies have been buried under a carpet of official indifference. By avoiding an enquiry, what has happened is that the miasma of suspicion that is hovering over the head of Karthik Chidambaram is continuing. Numerous sources allege "undue attention and interest" by the young politician in matters relating to equipment suggested as being needed for national security. There is every likelihood that such charges against Karthik are false, and motivated by jealously at his swift rise in business and politics. However, given the clout of the Home Minister in matters relating to promotions of IPS officers,the inaction of the CBI has given rise to speculation about the agency's motivation in rejecting an enquiry. Interestingly,a source claims that "one of the national security agencies of the Government of India recently asked for an enquiry into Hooda and Singh by both CBI and IB",but to no avail, "as high-level circles shield the two" . The Army has finally come out in the open about the mysterious retired armyman,who moves in very influential circles in Delhi,and directly tied him to the ongoing - and vicious - campaign against General Singh. It needs to be added that Defense Minister A K Antony has thus far kept himself scrupulously away from this campaign,although he has endorsed the view that Lt-General Bikramjit Singh is the fittest officer to be the new COAS.
Sources tracking procurement within the services are,in the words of a senior officer, afraid that "once the new Chief of Army Staff takes office,enquiries initiated by General Singh may get discontinued",thereby enabling officers guilty of graft and worse to escape. Hopefully,such a suspicion will be shown to be unfounded,come June 1,2012,and that the new Chief of Army Staff will continue the house-cleaning initiated by his predecessor. General Bikramjit Singh needs to show that he is in the tradition of those fighting graft,rather than in that of certain predecessors who are known to have done the opposite.

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