In an indication that the government is keen to name General Bikram Singh’s successor soon, the defence ministry has referred the matter relating to the appointment of the new army chief to the Election Commission.
The move comes even as a BJP leader pointed that the party did not really have problem with appointments where there is little scope for political executive to use its discretion. The off-the-record remark indicates a softening in the party’s stand, particularly after the BJP moved the election commission against the army chief’s appointment.
“If an appointment, like in the case of Army Chief, is made on the basis of set norms, like seniority, we do not have an issue,” a senior BJP leader said.
Former chief General VK Singh, who joined the BJP, had earlier criticised the UPA government for naming the new chief in the fag-end of its tenure. Incidentally, the BJP-led NDA government too had appointed Admiral Arun Prakash’s appointment as navy chief in May 2004, days before the UPA government took charge.
Army vice chief Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag – who was presented the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for distinguished military service by President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday – is tipped to be named the next Army Chief when Bikram Singh retires on July 31.
Sources said the reference to EC was made despite clear precedents since defence minister AK Antony wanted to “strictly follow” all procedures.