‘Outstanding’ track record, general dynamism, operational experience were some of the qualities that tipped scales in Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s favour in his elevation as army chief superseding two commanders, the govt justified on Sunday.
Defence ministry sources said selection of Army chief is the sole prerogative of the government and it is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged.
The “outstanding” track record of Lt Gen Rawat, an Infantry officer, as Commanding Officer of 19 Division in J&K and his familiarity with the functioning of the Army Headquarters and MoD were cited by the Ministry as the reasons for his selection for the top position.
The Ministry sources said all officers in the panel of officers in the rank of army commanders are competent and the most suitable is selected
“However, it must be emphasised that the prerogative of selecting the most eligible from the panel is that of the government,” sources said.
The government of the day takes the final decision choosing the most suitable officer based on various aspects of the security situation in the country and the future scenario, they said, adding in the current environment, counter terrorism and counter insurgency are key issues.
“Therefore the background and operational experience of the officers on the panel were considered in depth while selecting the next COAS.
“Lt Gen Bipin Rawat fulfills this criteria by virtue of his operational assignments as Commanding Officer of 19 Division in J&K and his outstanding track record, his familiarity with the functioning of the Army HQ & MoD in his capacity as Vice Chief and his general dynamism has also played a role in tipping the scales in his favour,” the sources said.
A political slugfest today broke out over the new army chief’s appointment with Congress and the Left asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spell out the “compelling reasons” for superseding the senior officers even as BJP hit back saying they should not politicise an issue related to defence forces.
The Ministry maintained “that the selection is based purely on merit, irrespective of the Corps to which the officer originally belonged”.
While Lt Gen Rawat is from the Infantry, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the senior most army commander who was superseded, is from the Armoured Corps.