Lt Gen Bipin Rawat's appointment as next Army chief: Congress, Left hit out at Modi govt

A political slugfest broke out over the new army chief's appointment by superseding two officers with Congress and the Left asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spell out the "compelling reasons" for it even as BJP hit back saying they should not politicise an issue related to defence forces.

Congress party on Sunday hit out at the Narendra Modi government for what it termed as "playing with institutions" and doing politics in the army even as he wondered if the appointment of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff was Centre's "whimsical cherry picking."

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari on Sunday questioned as to why the government was avoiding a clarification on this "unprecedented action."

Slamming the government, Tewari said that this supersession could be politically motivated. Tewari also said that undermining the set procedure is not a new thing for the present government.

 

 Lt Gen Bipin Rawats appointment as next Army chief: Congress, Left hit out at Modi govt

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: Twitter@adgpi

The Opposition party's comments came just a day after the government appointed Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new Army Chief superseding his two Lieutenant Generals. Customarily, the senior most army officer is accorded the position but in this case, as the Congress party claimed, Lt Gen Rawat superseded three senior officers in his appointment as the next Chief of Army Staff.

Tewari also lashed out at Modi over the appointment. "Our current prime minister behaves as if he's not answerable to anyone... what compelled the government to take this unprecedented action, don't the people have a right to know," Tewari asked.

Hitting out at the government for dodging questions over the Army Chief's appointment, Tewari alleged, "This government believes that anybody who questions them is anti-national and even questions on the Army Chief's appointment are termed seditious."

Earlier, Tewari had said that every institution has its own dynamics, hierarchy and seniority which is the overriding dynamic of the armed forces not only in India but everywhere in the world.

"With all due respect to Lt Gen Rawat's professionalism and no personal animus towards anybody, there is a legitimate question that why has that supersession taken place," he said.

Arguing that even though three other senior officials, Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, Southern Army Command chief Lt Gen PM Hariz and Lt Gen BS Negi, Army commander Central Command are senior to Lt Gen Rawat, Tewari questioned shouldn't people of the country ask as to what compelled the government to take this decision.

Tewari said, "While Lt Gen Rawat, who is being appointed the COAS, may perhaps have all the requisite credentials but the fact remains that in a hierarchy conscious organisation where the principle of seniority is almost sacrosanct, the supersession of three senior officers raises extremely serious and critical questions of institutional
integrity."

He said now the argument the government will give that Congress did supersession in the 80s and, therefore it has the right to do so is "complete nonsense".

"Every situation has its own context and, therefore nothing can be extrapolated out of context in order to justify a supersession. Therefore, the government needs to answer this legitimate question as to why these senior army commanders were superseded," he said.

"Did the government have anything against them? Was their professionalism in question? What was the reason and I guess the Army being a public institution, the country deserves those answers," Tewari said.

Meanwhile, Left parties also raised questions over the appointment. CPI leader D Raja also questioned the government's move and said appointments have become controversial.

"Appointments in the army have become controversial, the appointments in the judiciary are already controversial, the appointments of CVCs, CBI director and to Central Information Commission, all these top-level appointments are becoming very controversial," he said.

Terming this as "very unfortunate", Raja said it is not in the interest of democracy and the country.

He said there should be transparency and transparency should go along with integrity and nobody should raise questions. "But now questions are being raised," he added.

BJP, on the other hand, condemned Congress for its attack on the government over the army chief's appointment, saying there should be no politics on defence forces and asserted that Lt Gen Rawat has been elevated keeping in mind the current security scenario.

BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said the new army chief was picked up from a pool of five senior-most officers, who are all competent, and Lt Gen Rawat's appointment should not be seen as a negative against others.

Lashing out at the opposition party, Sharma said Congress by "politicising" the appointment of the army chief was showing its "frustration" after it has been pushed to the "margins" of national politics following successive electoral defeats.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Dec 18, 2016 18:01:05 IST