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'UPA treating the Armed Forces with callousness'

April 22, 2014 18:32 IST

Former Army Chief and now Bharatiya Janata Party's Ghaziabad constituency candidate is never away from controversy, writes R S Chauhan

In less than a fortnight after voting for the Ghaziabad seat ended, Gen VK Singh finds himself bang in the middle of another dispute, this time over the question of appointing the next Army Chief. As soon as the government appointed Adm RK Dhowan as the new Navy Chief last week -- taking over 50 days to decide the matter -- Gen Singh remarked that the United Progressive Alliance had bypassed convention of going by the seniority principle in appointing heads of armed forces.

"The appointment of the Naval Chief is a case in point. The UPA, by ditching established norms which it religiously followed in 2006, have opened itself to suspicion. I have no axe to grind with Admiral Robin Dhowan and as the CNS, I wish him well and am sure he will perform his duties to the best of his ability. However, as far as the UPA goes, the appointment in this manner is yet another example of how callously they have treated the Armed Forces."

Gen Singh added that the UPA government should avoid appointing the next Army Chief since the country is in the midst of a general election and that the UPA government has no moral right to make the crucial appointment.

The Bharatiya Janata Party too appeared to back him saying the government should be in no haste to appoint a Lokpal or the next Army Chief.

The Congress was quick to hit back with Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh lashing out at Gen VK Singh for politicising the issue of Army Chief's post.

Not one to sit back Gen VK Singh has now issued a lengthy statement clarifying his own stand.

Gen VK Singh says: "First, the process of appointing the next chief is a 3 to 4 month process and the designated officer that takes over the job of the COAS is according to convention announced two months before. The only violation of this was in the case of my successor where the UPA Government had announced his name three months in advance to further their own agenda. The selection process itself is an ongoing business and it should continue, with the final clearance being made by the new Cabinet. However, there are clear indications that the outgoing UPA government is deliberately speeding up the process in order to abrogate the decision to itself. This is morally and ethically incorrect."

The UPA's last ditch attempt to tamper with established norms in the selection of the next Chief of Army Staff must be resisted by all parties, regardless if they are left, right or in the center, Gen VK Singh added.

Image: Gen (retd )VK Singh, addressing senior army officers, during the Army Commanders Conference, in New Delhi on April 25, 2011

Photograph: Press Information Bureau

R S Chauhan in New Delhi