Lt General Praveen Bakshi, who was superseded to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new Indian Army chief, met Defence Minisre Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday amidst speculation that he would resign from the Army, reported the Indian Express. The report quotes officials as saying that Lt General Bakshi had sought a meeting with Parrikar as a courtesy call. Bakshi also reportedly met the present Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag after that.
While the Opposition has widely questioned the Narendra Modi government’s decision to supersede to senior Army officers, Lt General Bakshi and Lt General P M Hariz, defence sources have maintained the Rawat was chosen for his “tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas”. MoD sources have also indicated that Rawat was found “best suited” to deal with “emerging challenges”. However, this is not the first time that a government has done this. The last time this happened in 1983, when the then PM Indira Gandhi appointed AS Vaidya as the Indian Army chief, instead of his senior SK Sinha.
Some reports have also been suggesting that Bakshi may actually be appointed India’s first Chief of Defence Staff. Lt General Bakshi is currently the chief of the Eastern Command. An alumnus of National Defence Academy (NDA), Bakshi was commissioned into Skinner’s Horse regiment and has rich operational and command experience. Several other important positions held by him include the command of an armoured brigade in the Western sector, a division in the deserts, and a corps in the plains sector of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Lt General Bipin Rawat will take over from General Dalbir Singh Suhag on January 1, 2017. Lt General Bipin Rawat is said to have “vast experience” in counter insurgency operations and high altitude warfare. He commanded an Infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector; a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley.
Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles in the December of 1978, from IMA, Dehradun. He was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’ there. He has been awarded for gallantry and distinguished service with the UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, COAS Commendation on two occasions and the Army Commander’s Commendation. While serving with the United Nations, he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.