This is the second time in 33 years that the government has not abided by tradition while choosing an army chief. There is a political slugfest on after the government chose Lt. General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief. The bone of the contention by the opposition is the appointment was made after superseding two senior officers.
It may be recalled that former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi had overlooked General S K Sinha to appoint General A S Vaidya as army chief in 1983. While the Defence Ministry is yet to officially comment on the matter, sources say that a person with experience was needed to fight terrorism and also a proxy war. The Congress has questioned this move and asks why seniority was not followed while making the appointment. Further the Congress also asks why Lt. General Pravin Bakshi and Lt. General Mohamed Ali Hariz had been superseded.
Why was Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat chosen?
- The government has a free hand to chose whomever it wants, but the seniority principle must be followed.
- Government sources say he is best suited candidate to handle operational assignments.
- An experienced hand who had received the sword of honour at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
- Has a balanced approach towards soldiering apart from his compassion and connect with civil society.
- Lt. Generals Bakshi and Hariz have lesser experience when compared to Lt. Gen Rawat in Jammy and Kashmir.
Sources say that due process has been followed and it is the prevailing security situation that had prompted the government to take this decision. While the Congress and the Left have questioned the appointment, the BJP says that this is not an issue that should be politicised.
Lt. General Bipin Rawat has a good deal of experience and has handled operational responsibilities along the Line of Control, North East and the Line of Actual Control. He has ten years of experience in Counter Insurgency Operations and was also involved in the 1986 operations in the Eastern Sector facing China. The same year he was also posted in the 19 Division in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources say that considering the existing situation along the border areas, an experienced hand was needed. Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat is known for his balanced approach and connect with civil society. His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services, sources also said.