New Delhi: A day after the Congress questioned Narendra Modi government over the appointment of Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new Army Chief, a senior party leader has come out defending the selection.
Senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said, “Questions raised on appointment of Army chief aren't welcome, merging politics and Army is a big no.”
“Only seniority isn't parameter, other qualities also considered. Government must have thought decision through,” he added.
His comments are significant as it comes after Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had termed Lt Gen Rawat's appointment, super seeding two senior officers, as whimsical cherry-picking by the government.
"Is it that these officers who have been superseeded where unqualified in any manner or is it whimsical cherry-picking which has been done by the BJP-led NDA Government," said.
"We would like to ask the Prime Minister of this country, what was the compelling reason as to why the super succession has taken place? Why the principal of seniority which was held the filed now to almost two decades, not respected by our government," Tewari said.
“With all due respect to Lieutenant General Rawat’s professionalism and brilliance as a soldier and no personal animosity to anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why has this supersession taken place. After all Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi who commands the Eastern Command, the Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen Mohammed Ali and the Central Army Commander are all senior to the gentleman who is being designated,” Tewari said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has hit back at the Congress for politicising Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat’s appointment and drew the opposition’s attention to the decision taken during the regime of late prime minister Indira Gandhi when the then government superseded Lieutenant General SK Sinha to appoint General AS Vaidya as the Army Chief in 1983.
BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said it is extremely unfortunate that the Congress looks to politicise each and everything.
“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 have been done,” Singh said.
“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,” he added.
The government earlier on Saturday announced the name of Lieutenant General Rawat as the new Chief of Army Staff and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa as the new Chief of Air Staff.
Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).
Lieutenant General Rawat has remarkable experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.
He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the North-East.
He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and his connect with the civil society.
According to sources, Lieutenant General Rawat was found the best suited to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganized and restructured military force in the north; continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west and the situation in the North-East.
Air Marshal Dhanoa, who will replace Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, was commissioned into the fighter stream of the Air Force in June 1978. He has served in various squadrons, and also in the Intelligence Directorate of Air Headquarters.
With agency inputs