Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared the name of Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next Army Chief. The meeting was held at the Prime Minister`s office in South Block.
The Defence Ministry had earlier proposed the name of Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag for the top post. After the decision of the Cabinet the PM-headed Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) will sign on the dotted line and then the President will give his assent.
The BJP had opposed the move as the term of UPA-2 was ending. It also accused the government of being in a `tearing hurry`. BJP wanted the matter left to the next government.
However, the UPA refuted the allegations saying that it was not a political decision. It added that it had followed the seniority principle and that it has stuck to the tradition of naming a chief two months ahead of the sitting chief`s retirement. The incumbent Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh will retire on July 31.
The Election Commission yesterday gave a go-ahead to the Defence Ministry to initiate the process of appointing the next Army chief. In a communication sent to the Defence Ministry, the EC cited its March 27 order which made it clear that appointments, promotions, tenders and procurements of defence forces are not covered under the Model Code of Conduct, sources said.
The EC, responding to a reference made by the Defence Ministry, said if the government wanted, it could proceed with the process to appoint the next Chief of Army Staff, the sources added.
The poll panel considered the matter in the light of its March 27 order and amid complaints from BJP that government was rushing with the appointment of the next Army chief, PTI reported.
In the wake of strong opposition by BJP to the appointment of the next Army chief, the government had last week referred the matter to the Election Commission saying any decision will be taken only after getting its nod.
Meanwhile, BJP Lok Sabha candidate and former Army Chief Gen VK Singh had slammed Defence Ministry`s decision yesterday to go ahead with the process of appointing the next Army Chief, saying it is "ethically" wrong and would make the present chief "ineffective".
Significantly, during the last days of his tenure as Army Chief, VK Singh had put a `discipline and vigilance ban` on Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag, then 3 Corps Commander, for the "failure of command and control" as an intelligence unit under him had allegedly carried out dacoity in Jorhat in Assam outside the jurisdiction of the Corps.
The ban was lifted soon after Bikram Singh took over as Army Chief and appointed Suhag as the Eastern Army Commander.
With PTI inputs