President Patil told me not to quit after row over date of birth, says V K Singh

FrontRetired General V K Singh

Retired General V K Singh, who fought a bitter legal battle with the defence ministry over his disputed date of birth, has claimed that he was advised by then President Pratibha Patil not to resign as Army Chief a day after he withdrew his petition in the case.

Recalling the events of February 2012 when he had approached the SC on the age row — the first serving armed forces chief to do so — Singh has written in his autobiography, Courage and Conviction, that the court hearing came as a "big blow" and he thought of putting in his papers.

But he "quickly brushed that thought aside" as doing so would have meant playing "into the hands of those who were calling the shots", he has said.

Describing a meeting with then President Patil, a day after the SC hearing at which he withdrew the petition, Singh has said the events in court created a buzz and sent all media organisations into a "frenzy".

"They were now drawing comparisons between Gen. Thimayya's case in 1961 and it seemed they would only rest if I went in a blaze of glory having handed in my resignation to the Government of India. The media fortunately was not aware of my having met the president, Her Excellency Pratibha Patil, after I returned from Jaipur.

"I was scheduled to leave on an official tour of the UK the next morning. 'I hope you are not thinking of resigning', said the president, pointing out the importance of the official visit starting the next day. 'If you do that, history will say you were only interested in your age extension. You must carry on the work you are doing'," he has written.

The Indian Express shared the claim of the former General with Patil, through a close relative of hers and sought her comment. But she did not respond.

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