New Delhi: Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who heads Eastern Command, was on Thursday designated as the Vice-Chief of Army Staff in what is being seen as a precursor to his elevation as the next Army chief when incumbent General Bikram Singh retires next year.
The Army announced the decision to designate Suhag as the next VCOAS and he will take over from Lt Gen S K Singh on December 31 when the latter demits office.
Suhag has been in the line of succession to be the Army chief going by seniority but his prospects had run into rough weather after the then Army chief V K Singh had imposed a discipline and vigilance promotion ban on him when he was heading the 3 Corps in Dimapur.
V K Singh had charged Suhag with "abdicating responsibility" in "a most unprofessional and lackadaisical manner" while dealing with a botched operation by an intelligence and surveillance unit under him.
The ban was revoked by Gen Bikram Singh, when he took over as the Army chief, paving the way for Suhag`s elevation.
If the government sticks to seniority criteria, which it has for long, Suhag will become the Army chief when Bikram Singh retires in August next year.
Many believed the whole controversy was an outcome of factional feud within the Army as V K Singh was not keen on Bikram Singh and Suhag succeeding him in that order and wanted to disrupt the chain of succession.
He has, however, denied the allegation and instead blamed his predecessor Gen (retd) Deepak Kapoor of fixing his date of birth inaccurately so that his favourites could take over.
In other decisions, Army has designated Lt Gen M M S Rai as the next chief of Eastern Command and Lt Gen Arun Kumar Sahni as the next head of South-Western Command.