Was it right for retired General VK Singh to have openly locked horns with the government and saying Parliament should be dissolved, given the strong anti-incumbency sentiment? Was he settling scores with the government for not granting him the extra year he wanted?
SN Singh, former editor of The Indian Express and The Statesman feels Singh went too far under the influence of Anna Hazare. “He is a frustrated man because he did not get that extra year, ” he told CNN-IBN.
Former cabinet secretary Surendra Singh agreed, saying that there was no doubt that Singh was wrong to make a comment of that nature. Speaking to CNN-IBN, he said, “It (his comment) is absolutely unpardonable. And certainly in a senior govt servant with a hunger for uniform, ” harking back to the controversy around the general’s retirement age sometime back.
He also said this very unconstitutional way of thinking was unbecoming of a man who was a government servant just retired from service.
However, former navy chief Arun Prakash seemed to think that Singh was free to express his opinion, but admitted that he ought to have been a little more circumspect. He said, “He is a free citizen and he can express his opinion. But he is being watched closely by all the jawans and these are signals they take.”
Which brings us to the important question of whether a cooling period is necessary for just retired army officers before they get involved in civilian and political movements.
Surendra Singh certainly thinks so. “All government officers, civil and military. It’s not for them personally – in that sense it gives them authority and a greater sense of responsibility. Some cooling period should be there when they seek employment. Especially when they criticise government or constitutionally elected bodies like the Parliament.”
But is legislation the answer?
Former general VK Malik said, “It is better to have a moral code since the biggest violator is the government itself. They choose people and then when they retire they are given high positions. Civil officers are also rehabilitated.”
He a;sp said that the government should pull up its socks and manage the army well. “The Ministry of Defence should work on restoring trust between the civil and military officers of the army”, he added.