The government is on the verge on naming the next army chief, with the defence ministry all set to send Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag’s name to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) for approval this week, a top official told HT.
Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag
The move comes at a time when a few BJP leaders, including former chief General VK Singh, have tried to pressure the government not to name the new chief in the fag-end of its tenure. If cleared by the ACC, Suhag will be the first Jat to take on the army’s leadership.
Several attempts have been made to scuttle Suhag’s chances of becoming army chief, but the government has found no merit in the allegations against him. In the latest attempt to sabotage the army’s line of succession, a petition has been filed in the Manipur High Court alleging lapses on Suhag’s part in an encounter that reportedly took place on March 10, 2010.
Suhag was not even posted in the northeast then. He took over Dimapur-based 3 Corps only in March 2011. The alleged incident took place under VK Singh’s watch as he was then heading the Kolkata-based Eastern Command.
A similar petition was filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to derail General Bikram Singh’s chances of taking over as army chief in May 2012. A spy unit, controlled directly by VK Singh, had been accused of misusing secret funds to compromise Bikram Singh’s chances of becoming army chief.
Bikram Singh will retire on July 31. There is nothing extraordinary about a new chief being named two to three months before an incumbent is to demit office. Bikram Singh and former navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma were named as chiefs three months before the retirement of the then army and navy chiefs.