Former Army Chief Wanted To Resign, Govt Pre-empted

Recently retired Chief of the Indian Army, General Deepak Kapoor, wanted to put in his papers in the second half of January this year, more than two months before he was due to retire on March 31, according to top official sources. They reveal that General Deepak Kapoor wanted to resign from service when he received unprecedented written "advice" from his boss, Defence Minister AK Antony, to alter an earlier decision to slap his Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash with administrative action. Forced to bow to the "advice" -- many in the Army wonder if he had a choice -- sources say the Chief was willing to throw in the towel and retire early.

Significantly, General Kapoor allegedly wanted to quit at a time when his successor had not yet been formally announced. Such an eventuality would have been decidedly uncomfortable for the government. With no successor named, Vice Chief Lt Gen Prabodh Bhardwaj would have had to officiate as Army Chief while the government busied itself with the paperwork for a formal successor. Sources say the news of the Chief's intention to quit reached the government -- it caused enough of a stir for the government to quickly announce the Chief's successor Lt Gen VK Singh on January 22 (it was scheduled to be announced at the end of January), and any embarrassment was averted. It is not known whether General Kapoor put in a formal resignation or whether the government prevailed upon him not to -- what sources say is definite is that he wanted to step down.

The sequence of events, as top sources now re-tell it, is significant. In the wake of the Sukna episode becoming a full-blown controversy, General Kapoor had taken a call, well within his rights as Chief, to ignore recommendations from his successor, that one of the accused, the Military Secretary, be sacked. Instead, Gen Kapoor recommended that the officer undergo administrative action. Sources say in the first of two meetings in the second-half of January with the Defence Minister, General Kapoor defended his decision, but was asked verbally to give it a re-think. Sources reveal that after he returned for a second meeting with his recommendation unchanged, Antony then issued written "advice" that Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash undergo disciplinary proceedings. It was at this point, Gen Kapoor's aides now reveal, that he wanted out.

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