Opposition questions India's new army chief's appointment

Dalbir Singh Photograph:( Twitter )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 18, 2016, 10.45 AM (IST)

The opposition on Sunday raised questions as to why the government decided to supersede two senior officers to appoint Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief of India.

Rawat superseded Lt Gens Praveen Bakshi and PM Hariz to take over the reins of the Indian army.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said there is a "legitimate question" behind Rawat's elevation.

"With all due respect to Gen Rawat's professionalism and no personal animus towards anybody, there is a legitimate question that why has that supersession taken place," he said.

He said now the argument the government will give that Congress did supersession in the 80s and, therefore it has the right to do so is a "complete nonsense".

"Every situation has its own context and, therefore nothing can be extrapolated out of context in order to justify a supersession. So, therefore the government needs to answer this legitimate question as to why these senior army commanders were superseded," he said.

"Did the government have anything against them? Was their professionalism in question? What was the reason and I guess the army being a public institution the country deserves those answers," Tewari said.

Supersession is not new in appointment of army chiefs.

In 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed Lt Gen A S Vaidya as army chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.

Earlier in 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.

India's Left leader D Raja also questioned the government's move and said appointments have become controversial.

"Appointments in the army have become controversial, the appointments in the judiciary are already controversial, the appointments of CVCs, CBI director and to Central Information Commission, all these top-level appointments are becoming very controversial," he said.

Terming this as "very unfortunate", Raja said it is not in the interest of democracy and the country.

He said there should be transparency and transparency should go along with integrity and nobody should raise questions. "But now questions are being raised," he added.

(WION with inputs from PTI)