In yet another illustration of the establishment’s inscrutable ways, the Union Ministry of Defence(MoD) on Wednesday came out with a communique confirming Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag’s elevation as Army chief designate. However, it was the undue delay on the ministry’s part--it took the MoD almost 17 hours after the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet(ACC)headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the all-important decision--which defied logic.
“The government has decided to appoint Suhag, presently vice chief of Army Staff, as the next Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) after retirement of the present Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, on July 31, 2014 (sic),” the MoD release said.
The communique formalised the appointment of Suhag, two-and-a-half months ahead of General Bikram Singh’s retirement and just two days ahead of the May 16 results for the 16th Lok Sabha elections, widely seen as a vote against the incumbent UPA Government.
The ACC had on Tuesday approved a proposal from the MoD to appoint Suhag as next Army chief, following the EC nod to the Centre.
But the decision was not followed by the conventional announcement from the ministry, triggering intrigue over the delay involved in naming the next Army chief.
The ACC decision came despite vociferous protests from the Opposition BJP, though, it had considerably softened its stand on Monday. On Wednesday, BJP leader Arun Jaitley wrote on his blog that the UPA Government decision to appoint the next Army chief during the final few hours of its tenure displayed “a high degree of arrogance even in defeat.”
However, Jaitley calibrated the criticism, saying, “the BJP does not wish to bring the newly appointed Army chief into any controversy. The requirements of state craft would suggest that.”
He also said that the BJP spokesperson had “merely made a point on the propriety of the outgoing government making appointments in its last 72 hours.”
Meanwhile, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said in Hyderabad that the NDA,which is tipped to come to power, may review some of the decisions taken by the UPA Government.