Don't politicise armed forces: Cong retorts on army chief appt

Last Updated 19 April 2014, 15:55 IST

Congress today reacted sharply to BJP's suggestion to postpone the decision on appointment of the next Army Chief till the elections are over, saying the opposition party should not politicise the armed forces.

"Do not politicise the armed forces. They have kept themselves out of politics.... It is one of the great strengths of Indian democracy. It is a professional decision where BJP has no role. As far as I know there is no procedure to consult the opposition party before taking a decision," party spokesman Shashi Tharoor told reporters.

His remarks came a day after the BJP sounded a word of caution to the government, saying the appointment should not be made in a hurry following reports that the Defence Ministry has initiated the process of making Vice Army Chief Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as next Army Chief.

The BJP has asked government to avoid taking decision on the matter till elections are over.

The present army chief Gen Bikram Singh retires on July 31.

"I am not going into the specifics of any particular name but surely on the larger issue of naming the next General and reports about Lokpal appointment, we expect that when we are in the midst of elections, when the Model Code of Conduct is in force, at least till 16th of May all these things must be avoided," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had said.

Former Army Chief Gen V K Singh, when asked, said government should not "hurry" on making such appointments.

Singh, who has joined BJP and is contesting as its candidate from Ghaziabad, had days before his retirement initiated action against Suhag and imposed a disciplinary and vigilance ban, which was later lifted by the present Army Chief.

Tharoor also strongly justified the appointment of Naval Admiral RK Dhowan as new Navy chief saying the post was lying vacant for last three months.

He saw no wrong in the Prime Minister convening a meeting this month for the appointment of the Lokpal saying that the Search Committee for the purpose was set up months back and the appointment is part of the process and a natural continuation. 

(Published 19 April 2014, 15:53 IST)

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