In the latest development on the appointment of next Army chief, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated that the selection is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged. The MoD added that during panel discussions, various issues were considered in depth while selecting next COAS. Accordingly, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat fulfilled this criteria by virtue of op-assignments. They stated, currently, counter-terrorism & counter-insurgency are key issues. Hence, background & operational experience of the officers is of utmost importance. Opposition parties are looking to politicise the issue over the fact that the highest ranking officers were bypassed by the Centre while making this sensitive appointment.
MoD added that it is the government that takes the final decision in choosing the most suitable officer based on various aspects of security situation in nation & future scenarios. The appointment of COAS is based on making a selection from a panel of officers in rank of Army Commanders, justifying Gen Bipin Rawat’s selection.
However, the Opposition parties, especially the Congress has questioned the NDA government’s decision on appointing Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat by replacing two existing senior officers. This development comes a day after the NDA govt. appointed Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Rawat as the new army chief.
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Manish Tewari, Congress spokesperson demanded an enquiry be made as to why two senior officers, Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Southern Army Command chief Lt Gen PM Hariz were overlooked. Tewari said, “With all due respect to Gen Rawat’s professionalism and no personal animus towards anybody, there is a legitimate question that why has that supersession taken place,” calling the central government’s defence that the Indian National Congress (INC) did make similar decisions in the 80s and termed the latest decision as unprecedented calling it “complete nonsense”. Tewari asked, “Did the government have anything against them? Was their professionalism in question? What was the reason and I guess the army being a public institution the country deserves those answers.”
Senior CPI leader D Raja also questioned the government’s decision. He said, “Appointments in the army have become controversial, the appointments in the judiciary are already controversial, the appointments of CVCs, CBI director and to Central Information Commission, all these top-level appointments are becoming very controversial,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BJP has criticised the Congress for questioning its decision and “politicising” the issue. BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said it was “extremely unfortunate” that the Congress “looks to politicise everything”.Singh added, “Therefore, the Congress spokesperson (Manish Tewari) should resist about it because the chief of the Army has been appointed and this is not the first time that the supersession has been done.”
He continued, “There are other cases in the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy…also the same thing has happened. So, let’s not politicise each and everything and particularly when it comes to the Indian armed forces. It’s very sad that the Congress is trying to politicise this appointment.”