The Election Commission is likely to take a view on the issue of appointing the new army chief early next week, amid indications of differing views within the three-member poll panel.
The panel had given a blanket permission to the defence ministry on March 27 to go ahead with making top military appointments. However, the government’s surprise move to seek the EC’s opinion again on an issue that had already been settled appears to have created a dilemma for the panel.
While one view within the panel is that it cannot be seen contradicting its own order, another argument is that the decision could be deferred till the new government takes over.
Army vice chief Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag is tipped to be named the next chief when General Bikram Singh retires on July 31. There’s nothing extraordinary about a government naming a new chief two to three months before an incumbent is to demit office.
The BJP had earlier voiced its concerns over the government naming the new chief at the fag-end of its tenure, but the party appears to have softened its stand.
As first reported by HT on Saturday, a senior 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.
Incidentally, Admiral Arun Prakash’s appointment as navy chief was cleared by the outgoing NDA government in May 2004, days before the UPA government took charge.