Swamy protests against new Army Chief’s appointment, writes letter to President

Seeking stay on the appointment of a new Army chief, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Friday wrote a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee.

Swamy said the timing of the appointment of new Army Chief will demoralise forces.

In a letter to the President, he said, “The timing of this proposed announcement will, inter alia, ensure that the COAS office is politicised and the armed forces demoralised.”

Swamy said, “The present government’s endeavour to announce the next COAS is in direct contravention to the established convention, both in terms of timeframe and also with regards to certain ongoing investigations that are currently before the judicial system.”

The opposition BJP has said the outgoing government should not appoint the new Army Chief and should leave it to the next government that is expected to take over towards the end of next month. The party has even petitioned the Election Commission to halt the process.

Notwithstanding objections by the BJP, the Defence Ministry is going ahead with the process of appointing the new Army Chief and has recommended the name of Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The recommendation of the Defence Ministry will have to be approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, official sources said.

As per tradition, the government announces the name of services chiefs-designate two months before the retirement of the incumbent.

Sticking to that, it is expected to announce the name of the new Army chief by May 01, three months prior to the date of retirement of Gen Bikram Singh.

The appointment of incumbent Chief Gen Singh was also done three months prior to the retirement of his predecessor Gen VK Singh, who had a turbulent relationship with the Defence Ministry and even dragged the government to the Supreme Court over his age controversy.