New Delhi: The Government on Sunday defended its decision to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new army chief, insisting that his outstanding track record, operational experience and dynamism made him a preferred choice.
The official response comes after the opposition parties criticized the government decision to promote him by superseding two other senior commanders.
The Defence Ministry stressed that the Army chief's selection is the prerogative of the government and Rawat's appointment is purely based on merit.
It cited Rawat's "outstanding" track record and familiarity with the functioning of the Army Headquarters and MoD as the reasons for his selection.
Citing ministry sources, PTI reported that the most suitable officer (army commanders) in a panel of officers is selected for the top post.
Rawat was the Commanding Officer of 19 Division in Jammu and Kashmir.
The prerogative of selecting the most eligible from the panel is that of the government, the sources said.
"Therefore the background and operational experience of the officers on the panel were considered in depth while selecting the next COAS.
"Lt Gen Bipin Rawat fulfills this criteria by virtue of his operational assignments as Commanding Officer of 19 Division in J&K.
“His outstanding track record, his familiarity with the functioning of the Army HQ & MoD in his capacity as Vice Chief and his general dynamism has also played a role in tipping the scales in his favour," a source said.
A political slugfest on Sunday broke out over the new army chief's appointment with Congress and the Left asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spell out the "compelling reasons" for superseding the senior officers even as BJP hit back saying they should not politicise an issue related to defence forces.
The Ministry maintained "that the selection is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged".
While Lt Gen Rawat is from the Infantry, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the senior most army commander who was superseded, is from the Armoured Corps.
(With PTI inputs)