Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh is all set to become the next army chief after the defence ministry on Monday sent his name to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) for approval.
A third-generation soldier, Dalbir Singh will succeed General Bikram Singh who is retiring on July 31.
The 59-year-old general's name was sent to the PM-headed ACC hours after the election commission allowed the government to go ahead with the appointment. The issue had assumed political colours in recent weeks but the crisis ended after the BJP – which had earlier opposed the appointment – softened its stand, as first reported by HT on May 3.
The move ends weeks of suspense over whether the incumbent UPA government – at the end of its tenure – would name the new chief in accordance with the well-established principle of seniority.
The EC had given the government permission to proceed with making top appointments on March 27. But the ministry sought the poll panel's opinion on the matter again two weeks ago to make its case watertight.
Though the BJP had earlier moved the EC to prevent the government from announcing the army chief, the party later climbed down from its position with a top leader saying that the party had no problems with appointments where there was little scope for the political executive to use its discretion.
Dalbir Singh, who hails from Bishan village in Haryana's Jhajjar district, will serve as the army chief for two years and five months. A stickler for fitness, Dalbir Singh is known to go for a 10-km run daily and his hobbies include horse-riding and golf.
The Indian Peace Keeping Force operation was one of the defining moments of his 40-year career. His unit was one of the first to be inducted in Sri Lanka in 1987 but suffered more than 20 casualties including the commanding officer and a company commander. Though posted at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun as an instructor at the time, Dalbir Singh volunteered to join his unit in Sri Lanka and was in Jaffna within 24 hours of the tragedy hitting his unit.